Introduction to the Deck
Greeting Travelers! My name is Darklumiya and I previously discussed my Legend Aggro Hunter build from Test Season 4. I have once again achieved Legend Rank in Season 1 and am currently Rank 60 in NA.
Today I will be going over a Mid-Range hunter build specifically designed for the limited tournament scene. I’ve previously achieved Top 8 in ManaGrind’s weekly limited tournament using another build, and I will be using this version for the next tournament. Due to the nature of the limited tournament scene, the deck cost is obviously very low and should be very successful if played correctly in the current meta.
Currently, the limited environment is flooded with zoo and aggro hunter decks. Mid-range hunter in general has grown immensely popular as well thanks to Kolento’s build going mainstream. To best counter the meta, I decided upon building the deck with specific tech choices as you will see in the card choices below.
The good thing about Mid-Range hunter in a limited environment is that, like its cousin hunter rush, it only loses one card due to the deck restrictions. With King Mukla unavailable, we’ve already freed up one open space for some of the tech choices that will be added.
Standard choices such as Animal Companion, Scavenging Hyena, Houndmaster, Unleash the Hounds, Starving Buzzard, etc. all make the cut as these all represent impact cards in the deck. In this article, I will skip over some of the obvious cards and reference only the cards that vary specifically from Kolento’s build.
This card has been chosen to replace River Crocolisk specifically for the taunt that it provides. The stats are identical and although it is not a beast, there are enough targets in the deck for Kill Command regardless.
What Sunfury Protector does is provide you with extra taunts outside of Houndmaster that can be crucial to the deck’s success. Late game against a zoo deck, throwing out a Sunfury Protector on a Stampeding Kodo or Savanna Highmane can turn the tides and prevent your opponent from finishing you off with a Doomguard.
In addition, Sunfury Protector can be played out in the early game to establish board presence and not allow your opponent to take over before you can get out an Animal Companion.
This is the major change to the deck that I feel will give you an edge in a limited tournament. Versions prior to Kolento’s build utilized a 4 trap lineup, including Freezing Trap and Explosive Trap.
They also chose to use Eaglehorn Bow. In this deck, only Explosive Trap is required. The card is exceptionally strong against Zoo and Hunter Rush and gives you an extra card to mulligan for outside of Starving Buzzard/Unleash the Hounds when going up against Zoo.
In addition, many people will not expect Explosive Trap in a Mid-Range build, as the majority of the community has chosen the 0 trap lineup.
Also, with Hunter Rush seeing less play in comparison to the Mid-Range version, players are choosing to use 1 less Flare in their decks. Because of this, your Explosive Trap has an even lower chance of being rid from the board by Flare. I also decided to not tech an Eaglehorn Bow, simply due to the fact that Acidic Swamp Ooze sees a lot of play in the limited environment.
Overall, I feel that Explosive Trap alone makes this deck the strongest choice for limited play.
Look at this card as you’re 3rd Explosive Trap, but even better. This card is, like Explosive Trap, exceptionally strong against Zoo/Hunter Rush and also has the surprise factor attached to it. Most opponents will not see it coming, especially after they go on the aggressive once you’ve used your first Explosive Trap. I chose to remove the 2nd Stampeding Kodo to make room for Abomination.
To make room for tech choices like Explosive Trap, I’ve reduced the Flare count to one. Hunter Rush, as stated previously, is seeing less play in comparison to the Mid-Range build so your opponent is less likely to play any traps. However, keeping one does make it so that you still can see it against Hunter Rush and it obviously provides you with extra cycle when facing other decks.
This is one of two standard cards in the deck that I will go over specifically, as I’ve noticed many people don’t play it correctly or tend to jump the gun by using it too early.
Essentially, you need to view this card as your 2nd major threat outside of Savanna Highmane. It rarely will be summoned out alone, unless you know for sure it will survive into the next turn where you can pump it up via Stonetusk Boar.
You will want to save this card for combos such as Unleash the Hounds, where you can clear your opponent’s board and end up with a huge Scavenging Hyena when all is said and done.
Other strong plays with the card include utilizing Stonetusk Board to clear off a minion and pump up the Hyena or giving it a taunt through Houndmaster if the proper situation arises.
This card represents your strongest Turn 6 play and you’re beefiest minion. It can be combo’d with Starving Buzzard to draw 2 cards and essentially change the game.
Refrain from taunting this minion unless you absolutely need to or you know your opponent cannot silence it. A Houndmaster’d Savannah Highmane that gets silenced can be game-breaking.
General Strategy / How to Play the Deck
The deck’s main goal is to gain maximum value through power cards such as animal companion/unleash the hounds/scavenging hyena, while also making favorable trades that will eventually lead to a victory.
Ideally, you always want to have an Animal Companion in your opening hand. Generally, I would recommend trying to always have a Tracking and Animal Companion. Tracking is a card that you will not always want to use on Turn 1.
If you already have an Animal Companion and are not searching for a specific card to counter the matchup (explosive trap against Zoo), then it may be more beneficial for you to wait and use it later on. Depending on the matchup, you will also have to mulligan hard for Starving Buzzard/Unleash the Hounds/Explosive Trap, especially if you are facing a warlock. Sunfury Protector can be dropped early to gain some board presence if the matchup allows.
Strong turn 4 plays include Starving Buzzard/Unleash the Hounds and Unleash the Hounds/Scavenging Hyena.
One of the ideal turn 5 plays is to use Houndmaster’s effect on a Stonetusk Boar, which will usually provide maximum value. Your strongest turn 6 play will almost always be Savannah Highmane. As stated previously, I would not recommend taunting a Savannah Highmane in certain matchups (shaman/druid), as a silence will essentially waste 2 effects.
Try to get the most value out of your starving buzzard/unleash the hounds as you can, and also always look at your UTH as your AOE board control. This deck does not play like hunter rush, as it makes favorable trades that put you ahead on board and in cards.
However, towards the end of the game there will definitely be scenarios where rushing the face may be your only way to win.
Kill Command will usually represent a finisher in these types of situations, although you should definitely utilize your Kill Commands as board control throughout the game when possible
In a limited environment certain decks usually reign supreme over others, so I will only go over specific matchups that you will see in tournament play.
In this matchup you must mulligan hard for Staving Buzzard, Unleash the Hounds, and Explosive Trap.
Keeping a Tracking to search for them is also beneficial. Although Abomination can be useful in the opening hand in some situations, I usually wouldn’t recommend keeping it unless you already have Starving Buzzard/Unleash the Hounds/Explosive Trap.
Overall, you must make favorable trades with your opponent and try to save your Explosive Trap so that you get maximum value out of it. The specific tech choices added to the deck should give you an advantage in this matchup.
This matchup should be fairly easy as long as you don’t draw awful. Obviously, you won’t know what type of hunter your opponent is playing at first, but I would recommend keeping Stonetusk Board just in case, especially because even in the mirror match it is still a useful card.
Animal Companion/Explosive Trap/Flare/Unleash the Hounds are also card choices that you would like to see in the opening hand. Play around their Unleash the Hounds as much as you can and do not make the mistake of running into a Misdirection with a large minion. If you can get out a large Scavenging Hyena, your opponent will have a rather difficult time getting rid of it.
The majority of the mirror match will come to the draw, however if they are playing the trap lineup then you have a chance to get a huge swing in momentum with Flare.
In regards to your own Explosive Trap, you will want to use them as early as possible so that your opponent has the lowest chance of possibly holding Flare. You will want to make sure you open with an Animal Companion and Unleash the Hounds.
Putting out a turn 2 Sunfury Protector is also a very strong play for the deck.
This matchup will come down to how well you take advantage of your opponent’s over-extension by punishing them with Unleash the Hounds.
The good thing about this matchup is that your opponent will most likely have tech choices to negate Hunter Rush, and they will not benefit too well against Mid-Range (Swamp Ooze).
Explosive Trap provides you with a way to deal with Feral Spirits in combination with Unleash the Hounds.
Playing around Lightning Storm and getting them to waste a Hex on Scavenging Hyena instead of Savanna Highmane are crucial to your success, but overall the matchup is very good for Mid-Range.
Like any other mathcup, you will want to see Animal Companion in the opening hand. A big Starving Buzzard/Unleash the Hounds play should swing the game in your favor. This matchup is fairly easy, just avoid playing into a Blade Flurry or spell damage assisted Fan of Knives that could swing the game in your opponent’s favor.
Naturally, Mid-Range has a solid matchup against druid. Make sure you are once again getting the most value out of Unleash the Hounds and save Deadly Shot for a big threat. Explosive Trap should be beneficial in this matchup when combo’d properly with Unleash the Hounds.
If you avoid playing into a spell damage assisted Swipe and make favorable trades you should be able to take this matchup.
The good thing about this deck in a limited format is that it really doesn’t have any bad matchups. If you practice enough with the deck and mulligan properly you should find yourself able to win any game.
Due to this deck being built specifically for a limited tournament, every card should be obtainable to make the deck.
I would highly recommend this deck to anybody looking to succeed in a limited tournament. It’s extremely effective against nearly every matchup and is a lot of fun to play.
The majority of your success will come down to the mulligan and not over-extending. In addition, do not be afraid to rush face at the end of a game if it appears that is your only way to win. Those situations do not come up all the time, but recognizing when you must prioritize face over trading is extremely important.
Remember, at the end of the day you are playing a deck with Unleash the Hounds so you already have a pretty big advantage over your opponent!
If you have any questions feel free to ask, and if you are interested in hunter gameplay give my Twitch (twitch.tv/lumiyathehunter) and YouTube (youtube.com/lumiyathehunter) a look! Here is a video I made specifically showing how this deck plays against Zoo. Enjoy!