Guide to Legend Mech Hunter

vegietarian walks through his higher curve Mech Hunter decklist - peaked at Legend Rank 75!

Introduction

Hi guys, vegietarian back with another guide. This time, I will be discussing a deck that I personally have put a lot of time into testing and improving: Mech Hunter.  Although most of the cards in the deck were introduced with GvG, the BRM card quick-shot spawned the archetype. Mech decks are very good at emptying their hands thanks to the power of mechwarper, so Quick Shot can reload your hand with more fuel after clearing a minion.

Most of the Mech Hunter decks that people tried were extremely low curve aggro decks that played jeeves  in addition to Quick Shot to reload the hand with low cost cards every turn. I felt like that version was just an inferior version of the popular Face Hunter deck, so I went a different route. I took the elements of the most successful Mech Decks, and transferred them over to the Hunter class. This was the result. I peaked at Legend NA Rank 75 with this deck last week, and since then the deck has had a win rate just under 60% at mid-Legend rank, only losing once to Patron Warrior. It’s a competitive and unexpected Hunter deck that fits well in the current meta.

Why play Mech Hunter?

When a new archetype of deck comes around, an important question is “what makes this list better than other lists for this class and other lists in the meta?”  If a list is strictly worse than a similar playstyle deck, then there is little reason to play it.  Fortunately, Mech Hunter has some compelling reasons for why it should be taken seriously.

Mech Hunter has the potential for some of the most explosive starts in Hearthstone that don’t involve Murlocs. Thanks to mechwarper and metaltooth-leaper, you can build a board with extremely resilient creatures to AOE, and then give them a ton of attack to start hitting your opponent for a ton of damage. And all the while, your opponent mulliganed to deal with the low health creatures of normal hunter decks. They are stuck with things like mortal-coil and cruel-taskmaster in hand that do close to nothing against the stream of Mechs.  Even strong AOE cards like consecration and holy-nova cannot reach 3 damage without spellpower, and most important minions in this deck have 3+ health.

If you don’t get a great start, Mech Hunter still has a decent chance to win games thanks to Steady Shot.  You can constantly eat away at your opponent’s health, and freely go face with big and hard to kill minions, moreso than other Mech decks. You can always do least 2 damage per turn.  While crackle and fireball are great for bursting someone down in one turn, cards like eaglehorn-bow, glaivezooka, and quick-shot also give Mech Hunters more long term tools to race down their opponent than other Mech decks.

Another advantage that Mech Hunter has over other Mech decks is freezing-trap. This card synergizes extremely well with what the deck is trying to do.  It allows you to get more Mechs on to the board fearlessly, since Freezing Trap will negate their ability to trade into your Mechs. Mech Decks already are looking to end the games quickly, so this card is essentially hard removal for the frozen minion.

If you’re interested in giving Mech Hunter a try, let’s continue by discussing why each card was included in the list and how each card is used.

Card Choices

clockwork-gnome– While I have to admit I am not a huge fan of a 2/1 body that doesn’t have an impact on the board the turn it is played, you have to play two of this card in every Mech deck, as it’s the only 1 mana Mech. Mech Decks really like have turn 1 plays, and the potential to drop a Clockwork Gnome for 0 mana with Mechwarper is great.  The card also has solid synergy with metaltooth-leaper pumping it up to 4 attack for a trade.

cogmaster– The ideal turn 1 play for the deck. Even if you don’t have a Mech for a follow up turn, this card can eat up early removal, like wrath, darkbomb, or frostbolt and allow your mechwarper or piloted-shredder to stick around. It’s great for getting early face damage. In the late game, its offensive stat distribution can allow it to trade up into 5/5s with the help of a weapon or a quick-shot.  I think I would run four of these if I could.  Just a great card.

glaivezooka– This card is very solid. Because you will be the aggressor in most games, it’s good that you can use your life as a resource in some ways, so running the Zooka in addition to eaglehorn-bow allows for that to happen more consistently.  The Battlecry is occasionally useful for pumping up a minion to trade, and occasionally useful for bashing face for more damage. This card can also serve as another way to get direct damage on your opponent’s face when you are trying to race them. All-in-all, a versatile inclusion in the deck.  I only run one, because having a hand full of weapons can get awkward, and Zooka is especially awkward in hand because of its Battlecry.

freezing-trap– The best card you never want to draw. This card wins games vs. Druid.  Anything that gets sent back to hand is typically a devastating tempo loss for them that you can usually turn into a victory.  Against Patron Warrior, you can use it to bounce their Charging grim-patron back to hand.  This massively delays their combo or forces them to have another activator just to start getting everyone in here. In other matchups, it can be used to get rid of cards that you can’t easily deal with, like, mad-scientist, piloted-shredder or sylvanas-windrunner.  Getting value out of this card is crucial in every matchup. If possible, trade with their weaker minions so you can Freeze something they spent more mana on.  This card is honestly one of the most important cards in terms of securing victories with the deck, as it allows you to go face fearlessly.

quick-shot– The card that spawned the deck.  This deck can empty its hand very quickly, and if you can see yourself doing that in the next 1-2 turns, try to hold the card in hopes of getting a draw.  Even sending it to face isn’t bad, if you hero power that turn as well.  If you have to use it as a darkbomb to protect your board, that’s a perfectly fine use of the card and probably the most frequent.  It’s far better than trading away a mechwarper into a 3/2.

annoy-o-tron– Both Mech Mage and Mech Shaman have great 2-cost class Mechs (snowchugger and whirring-zap-o-matic, respectively) that they can play to follow up a turn 1 Cogmaster or play for 1 mana with mechwarper. Hunter doesn’t have that.  Running double Annoy-o-Tron is the closest simulation to having a strong 2 mana Mech.  The card does have nice synergy with metaltooth-leaper pumping its attack to a formidable number. It can also serve a similar role to freezing-trap, allowing you to go for the face with your larger minions since their larger minions will be force to trade into the Annoy-O-Tron. It’s also great in the matchup vs. Face Hunter.  It’s a mana-efficient enough card to include in this deck and furthers it towards its win condition.

mad-scientist– This card is just so strong. It puts an only-slightly mana inefficient body on the board.  It gets one of the best cards in the deck into play for free.  And it does it while thinning the deck so you can draw into minions and weapons more consistently.  I can’t see running any Hunter deck without it. Even though it’s not a Mech, it’s still often my turn 2 play with a cogmaster on board.  You want to trade with Mad Scientist instead other minions whenever possible, partially to get his deathrattle out before you draw the trap, and partially because he is not a Mech and will not get pumped up by metaltooth-leaper later in the game.

mechwarper– By now, I think everyone knows of the explosive starts that this card can generate. Just know that Mech Hunter can take even greater advantage of those explosive starts with metaltooth-leaper giving a pseudo-savage-roar to a board full of Mechs. Even if you don’t draw this card early game, it can be used to refill your board after it gets AOEd.

animal-companion– One of the slots I played around a lot with in this deck. I eventually settled on Animal Companion because of the mana efficiency of the body it gives.  It’s pretty much always a 4 mana card for 3 mana in this deck.  Unlike other Hunter decks, I never find myself horribly regretting the minion I rolled off Animal Companion just because all of them are so useful in this deck.  You want the face damage that Huffer gives, the Taunt and huge body Misha gives is nice, and Leok’s extra attack can help when you have a big board.  This card can also help you pretend to be a normal Hunter deck; turn 2 mad-scientist into turn 3 animal-companion into turn 4 piloted-shredder looks like a normal Midrange Hunter start and can give you time to draw into a big mechwarper swing turn midgame if you don’t have enough Mechs to make use of it early. I’ve had people drop their big-game-hunter to deal with my early minions and then been overwhelmed by the unexpected fel-reaver a few turns later.

eaglehorn-bow– Even as a fiery-war-axe for 1 more mana, this card is great. It can be used to push for face damage when you need it to, but its strongest use is to protect your board against your opponent’s minions. While it is great when you get an extra swing thanks to a revealed trap, it’s more valuable to trade with your opponent’s weaker minions and have the freezing-trap send something stronger back to their hand. If your opponent has an empty board on turn 3 and this is your only playable card, still develop it, but don’t hit face.  The face damage will matter very little and you can miss out on important uses of bow charges to eliminate minions.

metaltooth-leaper– Every viable Mech deck has a class Mech that’s one of the keys to its success.  Metaltooth Leaper is that for Mech Hunter.  As a 3/3 body for 3 mana, it’s only slightly inefficient when dropped on its own.  But when dropped with other Mechs on board, you can get insane amounts of pressure and value.  There are two main uses for the card.  It can be a 3 mana Dark Iron Dwarf (with a Mech tag), for pumping up a Mech to trade into something (for example, throwing your piloted-shredder into a druid-of-the-claw.  That’s a great use for it.  The flashiest use is obviously going to be giving 2+ mechs extra attack and then bashing face with them, and if you can stay mana efficient while doing that, it’s often a great play.  Even if you can’t fully finish them off and even if you play into AOE, Hunter’s hero power is often enough to put them on a clock and secure the victory.

spider-tank– When I theorycrafted this deck, I had harvest-golem in this slot, using the same logic as the inclusion of sticky deathrattle minions in druid. A sticky Mech can get metaltooth-leaper value even after a board is cleared. But a far better way to get value out of the Leaper is by getting Spider Tank up to 5 attack.  He can take out mana of the common 5 health threats, like emperor-thaurissan, shieldmaiden, or loatheb, and can even take out a sludge-belcher and live to tell the tale. Furthermore, 4 health is enough to survive every AOE spell besides flamestrike or shadowflame, so Spider Tank is plenty sticky.  Spider Tank just has great stats for its cost and the meta.

mechanical-yeti– Another spot that I played around with a lot.  Yeti seemed to work the best in the greatest number of situations so that’s why I put him in the final list for this article.  It’s somewhere between a third spider-tank and a third piloted-shredder, and this deck wants more solid creatures in that mana range.  The spare part that you give your opponent can actually get kind of awkward if it’s emergency-coolant and you drop a fel-reaver on the following turn, so try to save the Yeti if you have Fel Reaver in hand.

piloted-shredder– Considering almost every meta deck runs this card, and this deck has synergy with it, this card is a no-brainer inclusion. It’s extremely mana efficient, sticky, and threatening to your opponent’s life total.  For this deck in particular, it’s a great card because it gives you Mechs with every attack value.  annoy-o-tron has 1 attack, mechwarper has 2, spider-tank has 3, and piloted-shredder has 4.  People underestimate the value of flexibility in trading that you get when you have minions with varied attack numbers on the board.

fel-reaver– Now we start getting into the big drops that most Mech Hunters do not run. Fel Reaver is a fantastic card here.  If you can pull it out on turn 4 with mechwarper, it’s basically a mountain-giant.  This deck already puts out a lot of minions that suck away a lot of removal, and Fel Reaver can often go unanswered since the opponent had to spend their removal on your other Mechs. The drawback this card has is only a drawback if you go to Fatigue. If you don’t reach that point, it’s actually kind of an advantage: you know what cards you are not going to draw. One important thing to note is that you can burn the traps that your mad-scientist was hiding, so try to get rid of him if you are going to play Fel Reaver. If you are going to play Fel Reaver in any deck, I would highly recommend installing a deck tracker app, so you can play around the outs you still have. It’s very hard to keep track of all the cards you lose by memory, and you don’t want to be praying for a quick-shot you will never draw.

loatheb– A big body with an effect that can flat out win games against certain archetypes. He can protect your board against AOE spells and he can stop cheap removal spells.   He forces your opponent to spend their next turn developing a creature, which is exactly what you want them to be doing in the late game. Try not to trade Loatheb into another 5/5 unless you absolutely have to; in most situations, you are the aggressor, and your opponent will make the trade for you. Missing 5 damage to the face is actually catastrophic for this deck.

dr-boom– Another auto-include in many meta decks, so it’s an even easier card to include here, where you have potential synergy with Boom Bots and metaltooth-leaper.   It just puts so many stats on the board and so much pressure on your opponent to answer them.  In addition, because the deck runs two copies of fel-reaver, you can often play Boom without fear of getting gunned down by big-game-hunter.

Cut Cards and Tech Choices

Because I’ve tested a lot, I felt like it would be worth it to talk about some of the cards that I’ve used in different iterations of the deck. This also doubles as a section for the advantages of potential swaps for cards in the deck.

tinkertown-technician– This card is present in almost every Mech deck, but it’s just not great in the curve for this deck.  metaltooth-leaper and spider-tank are staples in this deck in the 3 mana slot, so you have to choose between this card and animal-companion or else risk a hand clogged with 3 cost cards. I chose Animal Companion as it felt more consistently powerful and useful, but it’s definitely close.

harvest-golem– I used this card a lot as well, in place of animal-companion and spider-tank.  It just felt underwhelming.  2 attack isn’t enough for a 3 cost card. It’s far from horrible in this deck, but there’s almost never a situation where I’d rather have a Harvest Golem than a Spider Tank.

hunters-mark– This deck definitely struggles with removal, but this card just felt awkward to use since there’s nothing good to throw into the minion that gets Marked besides annoy-o-tron. The Hunter decks that usually play this card have unleash-the-hounds, webspinner, or haunted-creeper, which all feel great to throw into a <arked minion. But this deck has none of those. Without many ways to get great turns out of Hunter's Mark, I felt it was best to leave it out.

arcane-nullifier-x-21– I ran a ton of games with this card after I played against a Mech Rogue who destroyed me with it.  It’s very hard to get a feel for how powerful the untargetable by spells and Taunt combination is, but it makes things really awkward for opponents. The Mech tag was really why I threw it into this deck, and I loved the card. Eventually I cut it for the mechanical-yeti, just because the meta at Legend was control heavy and paying mana for the taunt wasn’t always worth it. But I feel like this card is a good deal underrated and definitely deserves more people experimenting with it in decks, Mech and non-Mech.

jeeves– I tried this card a ton of times and when it works it’s amazing. Especially in a deck like this, that’s slightly higher curve than the average deck that uses Jeeves, if you have an empty hand, even one turn with him can give you an insane amount of resources. It’s so card to cut a card that wins you so many games. I gave up on him when I finally started to acknowledge how many games he was losing me. His stats are abysmal for 4 mana. Even if you’re getting 1 draw out of him, which is hard to set up, he’s still pretty horrible. Eventually I had to accept that he wasn’t going to fit the deck and cut him, and I immediately found a lot more success with the deck.  Jeeves is certainly a great card in low curve decks, but not in decks that have cards more expensive than Jeeves.

snipe– This is kind of a card like snake-trap in that if too many people are playing it, it can be played around to be almost completely ineffective.  But if your opponent is playing around other traps, you can get immense value.  I was experimenting with Snipe this weekend and was able to pick off Neirea’s warsong-commander and deny him his grim-patron combo turn.  However, I would not recommend that Snipe become the Mech Hunter standard.  For one, it’s high variance even if your opponent isn’t playing around it.  I’ve hit sludge-belcher and mad-scientist with it, and both of those are pretty awkward Snipes.  You can occasionally get a great result and tilt your opponent, but freezing-trap is much more consistent and protects your board against more threats.

kezan-mystic– I like running Kezan Mystic in a deck that already has secrets, just because you can slightly more consistently get value by stealing back your own Kezan’ed trap. However, this deck really doesn’t want to have a lot of situational cards; you’d rather be dropping Mechs on curve. It has okay answers to most meta traps anyways.

Mulligans and Early Game

Now that we’re finally through discussing which cards to put in the deck, let’s talk about which ones to keep in the mulligan phase. You never want to keep any cards that cost 4 or more mana.  It may be keep that piloted-shredder against a slower deck, but you need the extra chances to draw into the great early plays.  freezing-trap should also always be mulliganed away. It’s not useful enough in the early game on its own, and it’s better to pull it out with mad-scientist.

Now to the cards that should always be kept: cogmaster, clockwork-gnome, mechwarper and mad-scientist are the only cards that should be kept in every matchup with any hand. If you already have a solid hand or really want a turn 3 play, you can keep spider-tank and animal-companion.  If you have Cogmaster or Mechwarper or are playing against Hunter, keep annoy-o-tron. If you have mechwarper and another Mech, definitely keep metaltooth-leaper, but discard it in other situations. Against Priest, Warlock,  Mage and Shaman I like to keep eaglehorn-bow as it answers the minions those decks play early very well.  I also keep quick-shot against those classes. Consider glaivezooka, but it’s only a good play if you have a minion stick to the board.

In the early game, you want to avoid slamming a naked mechwarper. Opponents will send all the removal they have at it and while it will probably stay mana efficient in the short term, in the long run, the rest of the cards in your deck will not be able to. At least try to get a clockwork-gnome out for cheap.  Against warrior, you can hold your Mechwarper until turn 3 for a combo with annoy-o-tron, to protect your Mechwarper from fiery-war-axe. Don’t focus too much on face damage early game.  piloted-shredder and fel-reaver will do a lot of damage to their face; just make sure they have a safe board to go into. Try to trade away non-Mechs like mad-scientist, animal-companion and cogmaster to protect your Mechs, so your metaltooth-leaper can buff more when he comes out.

Late Game and Finding Lethal

In the late game, you want to leverage your hero power as much as possible. Every turn that you do not hero power is 2 damage lost that you can never get back. This will also help play around AOE spells, since you will be dropping less minions per turn. At a certain point, you have to realize that you cannot trade anymore because you will run out of steam.  For example, don’t trade dr-booms or loathebs with your opponent unless they are pushing towards lethal themselves; let your opponent make the trade for you. Hero powering every turn can make the deck last a bit longer, but you want to maximize damage from your minions while you can.

It’s hard to understate the importance of two turn lethal plans in this deck. Keep track of how much damage you have on board, and with your hero power.  Could you kill them if you hit their face with eaglehorn-bow and hero powered for two turns? Don’t be unwilling to hit face and leave them at an health level where you would have to draw the Bow or quick-shot in the next two turns; you’re much more likely to win that way than by trading away your entire board and playing control.

Matchups

Patron Warrior

The popularity of this deck is the best reason to play Mech Hunter. freezing-trap stops grim-patron dead in its tracks and forces them to have a third charging minion or combo piece, and wait longer to use their combo. This buys the Mechs more than enough time to get enough face damage on Garrosh and secure the win.  The key to the matchup is to trade all the time if you have your Freezing Trap up. You don’t want anything getting bounced back to their hand besides Grim Patron.  It also helps that this deck can put out way more minions than Patron warrior can deal with. Very favorable matchup.

Handlock

Another one of the most popular decks and another favorable matchup. You can typically get a good enough start to deny them the time they need to find molten-giant, Taunts or antique-healbot. Know that they cannot Taunt and Heal on the same turn until they hit 7 mana.  quick-shot and hero power are great for shooting over taunted Moltens, and Quick Shot should be held for that sole purpose. Don’t let them freezing-trap one of their taunters back into their hand and you should be able to win. Be careful for hellfire.

Zoo

Just like Mech Mage, this deck struggles in the matchup with Zoo. Zoo possesses a lot of tools to trade efficiently with minions, so your minions can get cleared and Zoo can be left with the board. You can win this matchup in two ways. The first is with a great mechwarper start.  While Zoo does put out a lot of efficient minions, it can’t deal with the mana efficiency of multiple cost-reduced Mechs. You will end up with an empty hand fast, but your goal is to win before the effects of that starting hurting you. The other way to win is by playing like a Face Hunter. This deck runs enough of the elements of the archetype that you can try and race down your opponent with eaglehorn-bow and your hero power. Both strategies are draw dependent though; know which one your hand is able to do.

Druid

Another popular deck where freezing-trap can win games. Here, it’s great if you can send anything they have back to hand: shade-of-naxxrammas, piloted-shredder… basically anything that doesn’t have Taunt you are happy to ignore for a turn and send it back to their hand, since Druid spends a lot of cards making sure they drop minions ahead of curve. Unfortunately, more and more Druids are fitting ancient-of-war into their decks, so this matchup has gotten quite a bit worse.  It’s still probably favoring the Hunter, but if you lose to a lot of Druids I would recommend teching in hunters-mark.

Hunter

Face Hunter is actually a pretty good matchup for this deck.  Your minions have good stats for stopping their early stream of damage, and you can easily flip the switch with metaltooth-leaper and starting hitting their face instead.  annoy-o-tron is an incredible card in this matchup.  Against Midrange and Hybrid hunter, you win by getting freezing-trap value, but so do they.  They also have unleash-the-hounds to make it harder for you to get Freezing value.  If you can get far ahead on face damage with a big Leaper turn, go for it. Once Midrange Hunter starts to take a lot of face damage and starts playing defensively instead of dropping minions on curve, you are typically able force them into a constant defensive position and you can leverage that into a win.

Mage

There are so many mage decks going around right now. Freeze Mage is a pretty good matchup for this deck, because of loatheb and lots of weapons.  Tempo Mage is not as good, since this deck cannot answer flamewaker very well. Mech Mage is basically the mirror matchup and comes down a lot to draws.  Trade with their Mechs early and often so they can’t drop a goblin-blastmage and swing the board. Mirror Entity is really useless if you give them one of your 1 drops or mechwarper, so try to forfeit your curve a little bit if you see they have a secret out.

Rogue

blade-flurry is an incredible card for shutting down this deck’s board. But loatheb is a great card for shutting down Rogue’s everything.  Drop it basically whenever and you get a free turn. If you got the Time Rewinder Spare Part, don’t be afraid to do it again. Rogue only has two eviscerates in their deck, and this deck forces them out in a hurry. Try to put the pressure on them with bigger minions each turn as they run out of removal. Just be really careful for that Flurry.

Paladin

I don’t face too many Paladins, so I’m not too sure how this matchup is. There’s a new Aggro paladin list that is pretty hard for this one to deal with unless they are really dumb with their blessing-of-kings. The more well-known Midrange list is also pretty tough for this deck.  shielded-minibot and muster-for-battle are really hard to answer effectively and can shut down the deck really well. There’s also no silence for tirion-fordring which is kind of bad.  Anyway, I didn’t face enough Paladins to get an accurate assessment on the deck, but I don’t think it’s a good matchup. Don’t play into consecration too much, especially with weaker minions like cogmaster and clockwork-gnome.

Priest

The older school control priest is an okay matchup unless they get a huge auchenai-soulpriest + circle-of-healing combo. The newer one, with deathlord and velens-chosen is a lot harder. If they have a minion buffed by Velen’s Chosen on the board, holy-nova hits for three, which will destroy your board. If you can, try to set up a freezing-trap to get rid of the Chosen minion before turn 5. If they aren’t playing into it, just try your best to clear it. Be a little bit cautious with your metaltooth-leaper after turn 6, since it will push your minions to death by lightbomb.

Conclusion

I hope you enjoyed reading about my Mech Hunter list. I would love to see some other players give it a try and let me know about their experiences with it, since I have spent a lot of time working on this deck. I welcome feedback on the deck or the article itself in the Comments section!  Thanks for reading.

-vegietarian