Hunter has long been one of the dominant classes in Hearthstone, so it’s no surprise that last weekend’s Gfinity Hearthstone event saw a fair amount of the class. Some were midrange, some were the hyper-aggro Face Hunter variant. However, one player dared to be different and brought something rarely seen before.
Roman “FaKe” Schick of mYinsanity came to the tournament equipped with a Hunter deck that had really never been used in tournament play. Gone are many of the early game minions, replaced with things like Alexstasza and the Hunter class legendary added in Goblins vs Gnomes, Gahz’rilla.
We spoke to Schick about the origins of the deck, how it is played, and some of the more surprising inclusions.
Where does the deck come from, who came up with it?
A high legend player called “missfoxio” who never participates in tournaments gave me the main build a few days before the Gfinity Qualifier. I removed some cards and included Spellbreaker, Explosive Shot, Loatheb and Deadly Shot to have more options.
How different is the play style from the more standard midrange Hunter?
In the control matchups, it is actually very similar to the Midrange Hunter and plays around Savannah Highmane a lot. In the Aggro matchups however, it is a lot different. Instead of trading minions for minions, you try to mulligan aggressively for Wild Pyro and Coin/Arcane Shot/Hunters Mark before you transition into Senjins and Belchers.
How good is Steamwheedle Sniper in this deck, and more generally?
Steamwheedle Sniper is just a very versatile card. As a 2/3 for two you can often just coin it out on turn one vs. aggressive decks and they need to deal with it ASAP. Otherwise you just get too much value with your two-damage pings. In late game you can use it to buff Gahz’rilla so it rarely becomes a dead card.
What does Explosive Shot do in this deck?
Explosive Shot originally was the second Hunter’s Mark. I exchanged it for Explosive Shot because sometimes I just had these hands with multiple Hunter’s Marks, Trackings, and Arcane Shots. So while I was able to gain Tempo, I just didn’t have enough beef in my hand to follow it up. I tried out Explosive Shot as a value card, and it was working quite well, making matchups such as Druid better by killing Shades with the AOE.
Why is Alexstrasza included?
Alexstrasza is very important because it is the only Heal in the deck. Other Hunter decks are aggressive enough that you don’t really need heal, but this one sometimes goes to the later stages of the game. But due to the nature of Hunter’s hero power, you still want to finish the game quickly at some point, so Healbots are just too slow as a 3/3 for five. Alexstrasza is more flexible because it can heal you in the aggressive matchups and deal 10-15 damage in the slower ones.
Do you think Gahz’rilla is a card that is as powerful as it first appears, or is it too situational?
To be honest, when missfoxio showed me the deck, my first question was whether Gahzrilla is good because on its own it seems mediocre at best. Then I spectated one of his games and I instantly got why Gahzrilla is one of the best cards in that deck. As a 6/9 it is very hard to remove the turn you play it. But your opponent usually HAS to kill it. There are so many ways to make it big. Wild Pyro, Steamwheedle Snipers, Arcane Shot, and even Explosive Shot on one of your adjacent minions. Gahzrilla is the card in the deck that makes a lot of early game cards still viable in the late game.
Do you think this deck is suitable for ladder? How high can it go?
While I do think the deck is more built towards tournament play and designed to make use of a certain surprise factor, it is still decent on ladder. I would say 60 to 65 percent winrate is possible on legend. So you can definitely achieve Top 100 or the lower Top 50 Legend ranks if you play it well. I don’t think it’s suited to go for Top 20 and higher on ladder though.
Image via Blizzard