Secrets have been one of the few forms of counter-play in Hearthstone since the game doesn’t allow any form of opponent interaction during turns. Only three classes have access to secrets as a part of their class cards and there haven’t been highly viable decks that are ‘secret themed’ outside of Secret Paladin. One Night in Karazhan had one Secret for Hunter while Mage and Paladin did not get any, as well as Cloaked Huntress – which is a great 3 drop that allows you to play all the secrets you have in hand for free. Many people have tried building decks around the card and it took quite some time until I bumped into a list that actually worked well in the meta versus all of the top tier decks.
This Secret Hunter list is by VLPS (Victor Lopez) and it has been doing exceptionally well in the Legend ladder for me. VLPS took it to top Legend ranks this season and you will be able to find some VODs of the deck in his Twitch channel. I played Tempo Mage to Legend this season and was looking for other decks that could do well versus Mid Range Shaman, since I was slightly bored of Mage and wanted a change. I bumped into the list a few days back and I’ve been really impressed by the results. One of the best things about the deck is that it has sufficient draw power allowing you to get to your late game once you are able to control the early game through secrets and your weapons. The Curator has been a great addition to the deck by VLPS because you are able to get exactly Azure Drake and Savannah Highmane from it, 2 cards you want to get in the later stages of the game to keep adding pressure.
In the early game you want to play your secrets and control the board. One of the questions people keep asking me is that how does the deck fare if you do not draw your Cloaked Huntress or Secretkeeper, I have found that even if I did not draw these 2 minions, the deck does just fine through secrets, Animal Companion and Eaglehorn Bow in the early game. The coolest thing about the deck is that you can play mind games with your opponent. There have been games where I have coined out secrets like Cat Trick or Bear Trap on turn 1 just to make Shamans think I played Snipe to counter Totem Golem but I play something completely different to force suboptimal plays. Understanding your opponent’s decks is essential and you want to trap them with your traps (horrible joke). Saving those Freezing Traps versus OTK warrior after they drop Emperor Thaurissan to prevent lethal or setting up Snipe versus Tomb Pillager or Azure Drake can turn games in your favor. You can push some serious damage with Eaglehorn Bow and using it wisely is important. There’s always a plan with the deck to counter most decks and identifying your win condition fast enough will help you breeze through games.
Card choices and explanation
Secretkeeper: It’s the only minion in the 1-2 drop slot in our deck. We run 2 copies of Secretkeeper to take advantage of buffs it receives from secrets. Sometimes it is okay to play it on turn 1, while sometimes you need to wait a turn and play a secret with the coin to ensure you are able to get a good trade at least. There are times when you can just drop a Secretkeeper on your first turn and then coin out a Cloaked Huntress to get some serious buffs on your Secretkeeper. The card will snowball you to victory at times, and sometimes it might just kill something like a Fiery Bat and that’s about it. If you have a really solid hand that allows you to have an insane turn 3 combo by coining out Secretkeeper and Cloaked Huntress together with a bunch of secrets versus a slow deck, feel free to go ahead and be greedy but avoid doing so versus faster decks because it might just get you killed.
Tracking: Some of the complaints I often see from my friends and in forums about the card include the Tracking being called situational or just bad. Imagine the card text of the card to be: “Look at the top 3 cards of your deck. Put one of them in your hand and the other 2 in the bottom of your deck.” Considering going into fatigue as Hunter is something that almost never happens (0 instances in the past 2 years for me) regardless of what deck you are facing, just think of the discarded cards being at the bottom of your deck which you will never draw. I have been able to draw Cloaked Huntress with a bunch of secrets in my hand or much needed removal or late game using the card, I think you most definitely need to run a copy of the card considering you can have dead draws often and a Bow or Huntress might help you evade falling behind.
Bear Trap: One of the better anti-aggro secrets in the game, it helps you deal with early game aggression and sometimes I see people not attacking with cards like Totem Golem assuming it is Freezing Trap. Since Cat Trick is a more proactive secret and it’s been doing great in Secret Hunter decks we chose to have 2 copies of Cat Trick and just one copy of Bear Trapv as a more proactive measure.
Cat Trick: One of the better secrets Hunter has access to. You will be able to trigger the secret quite easily since almost every deck runs a substantial amount of spells outside of Zoolock. It’s a great secret versus Control decks because it’s an assured 4 damage and more often than not you are able to get a great trade or simply push face damage. I’ve been loving the card versus Rogue and Mage because you are able to deal with cards like Tomb Pillager and Azure Drake very easily. The Coin being a spell also makes it easier for you to proc the secret.
Explosive Trap: Explosive Trap is a great secret in this deck because unlike other Hunter decks you have few minions making it harder for them to play around the trap by trading. You can simply play the card and wait until their board gets wiped out. Even if they choose to just wait it out so they can get some trades in, you are going to be playing traps and using your hero power to add more pressure forcing them to go face and lose some of their minions. The trap also works with Azure Drake, a thing that most of the Shamans I faced on ladder clearly didn’t think about even at the top end of the ladder and ended up losing their Spirit Wolves or 3 health totems.
Freezing Trap: One of the best Hunter secrets you have access to in the deck, if not the best secret in the deck. It’s highly effective versus a lot of decks and there are times I won on the back of this card. One thing you need to keep in mind is the ordering of the secrets which I will get into detail later in the guide.
Secrets always proc in the order they are played in so you can set up a combo of traps to get the desired results regardless of how your opponent plays his cards. If there is a snowballing Thunder Bluff Valiant you want to play Explosive Trap first and then play your Freezing Trap. Regardless of what minion he chooses to attack with, if there are only buffed up 2 health totems, the Thunder Bluff will be sent back to your opponent’s hand. It’s something you need to keep in mind when ordering your secrets to get the best possible results.
Quick Shot: Quick Shot is one of your reach cards that helps you draw if you manage to dry out your hand early in the game which happens sometimes if you have a secret heavy hand and Cloaked Huntress. It’s one of your flexible tools that can help you deal face damage to close out games as well as maneuver your opponent’s plays to fall into your traps.
Snake Trap: It is the only card I am not very sure about in the deck but my McHammar’s Deck Evolver stats show that Snake Trap has a positive impact on the deck and I have been able to get fairly good value out of the card when I am ahead, but never when I am behind. It’s a good secret but it hasn’t been delivering as often as I’d like it to and it’s also been a dead card quite often since the other secrets are a lot better in most scenarios and you play it only when you have Huntress or free mana to spare. I might consider making a switch for a second Bear Trap in the deck but as of now I need to play more games to get a definitive conclusion.
Snipe: One of the unsung heroes in the deck. While your opponent might play around it, there are decks that just cannot and any minion you snipe is value against a lot of decks. Even if Snipe does not kill off minions completely you can easily deal with cards like Flamewreathed Faceless by throwing a Quick Shot or an easy trade to clear off big minions like it. The number of times I’ve been able to take out high value cards is impressive. The card works with Spell Damage so if you have an Azure Drake on board you will be able to take out 5 HP minions on the spot.
Animal Companion: One of the most powerful Hunter basic cards and we’ve all seen the card in action with memes like ‘Always Huffer’ surrounding it. You can add a lot of pressure with the card and it allows you play 3.5 – 4 mana worth of minions for just 3 mana crystals. You do not have any beast synergy in the deck but the card is powerful enough to demand an inclusion nonetheless.
Cloaked Huntress: One of the coolest cards in One Night in Karazhan. The card is a powerhouse in the deck and it allows you to get quite a bit of value since you run 10 secrets in the deck and being able to play a handful of them on turn 2 or 3 is quite good. Do not just jump into the fray and drop in all your secrets to make a Christmas tree though. You need to understand and predict your opponent’s plays and might want to save a few secrets for later if you feel they are not good in the turn you drop your Huntress just to get value out of it. One of the best things about the card is that you do not need to play them on the same turn and the effect will be active as long as Huntress is in play.
Eaglehorn Bow: One of your primary sources of removal and damage. If you have a lot of secrets up you can just go face if you know the traps will deal with your opponent board. I advise using up Bow and leaving only one charge at all times when you have traps up. Outside of matchups where you need to save your weapon charges, feel free to swing some face damage in to close out games. There have been a lot of games where I just played traps and hero powered my opponents to death while going face with the bow and getting durability added to it each turn.
Barnes: Barnes is exceptional in the deck and I would not recommend cutting it. Every minion the card can pull has some effect attached to it and being able to pull a Cloaked Huntress or Savannah Highmane can allow you to gain a lot of tempo advantage in the right circumstances.
Azure Drake: One of the best draw options for the deck because you will run out of cards with a good opening with Cloaked Huntress and the card’s spell damage allows you to have synergy with your traps and the draw effect helps you cycle through your deck easily.
Savannah Highmane: One of the powerhouse late game cards in the deck and it’s very hard to deal without using transformation effects like Hex. The deathrattle is very strong and it is very good against classes like Warrior and Druid. Highmane is just the beginning of your lategame threats and the follow ups listed below are just as scary.
The Curator: You know exactly what you will draw with The Curator – 1 Azure Drake and 1 Savannah Highmane. The consistent value the card provides is what makes it a worthy addition. I like the idea behind the inclusion of the card and the design of the deck overall because once you control the board with your secrets you are able to generate massive value out of your draw cards and close out the game very easily. The taunt effect is also great versus other Hunter decks because it can stop Call of the Wild on the spot and can take out 2 minions quite easily. The rock steady card has been a superstar in the deck and you will be impressed by how consistently he allows you to push through the lategame without allowing any breathing space for your opponent.
Call of the Wild: Call of the Wild may very well be the most powerful 8 mana card in the game right now thanks to the amount of pressure it builds on board and the instant 5 damage you have access to. My Deck Evolver stats indicate I have drawn and played the card 39 times and 32 of those times it has led to a win which shows how ridiculously good the card is.
Ragnaros, The Firelord: ragnaros-the-firelord is the final late game threat you have in the deck and if you ever need to kill some insects you just need to dial 8 and he will be there for you! He has helped me close out games quite often and helps you win versus slower decks very easily. Pulling it off Barnes and dealing 8 damage to your enemy can be devastating and since you have sufficient draw in the deck you will get to your lategame very consistently allowing you to play Ragnaros on curve if you need to very often.
Exclusion of Kill Command
One of the queries I get a lot when playing the deck is why the deck doesn’t have Kill Command. Simply put, you do not need it. I remember only 2 good Hunter decks till that that I’ve seen or played with that skipped the card – this very deck and the Camel Hunter deck J4CKIECHAN built way back with Injured Kvaldir and Secrets.
Playstyle and Tips
If you want to play the deck at its maximum potential power level you need to understand how to plan your secrets. The use of the Coin, ordering of the secrets and using your Eaglehorn Bow are three things you need to consider when picking this deck up. It’s not your average Hunter deck and it plays out quite differently in the early to mid game. Knowing when to play your Bow first or when to save your Secrets is highly essential. Playing mind games with your opponent and forcing them to think about their plays using your secrets is one of the most fun things about the deck. The Mulligan is one of the most important parts of the game and you need to understand your matchup to realize what cards you want in the starting hand.
Like I mentioned earlier in the article, you want to play your secrets in the most efficient order to ensure you get your desired results. Knowing how secrets function and looking out for plays through which your opponents can play around your secrets and then countering them with alternate lines of play in advance is essential. Most of the potential mistakes anyone can make with the deck are during the ordering of your Secrets and choosing to go all in with Cloaked Huntress. For example, if you play both Freezing Trap and Explosive Trap when a minion is on board on the other side, both the secrets will trigger and it’ll be a waste of an Explosive Trap. Predicting plays and thinking one step ahead of your opponent is what’s going to win you more often than not. It’s not the most difficult deck to play but it does have a lot of room for mistakes. Find the most efficient play in each turn instead of going for the most powerful on curve plays. Plays like not playing Savannah Highmane on Turn 6 versus Rogue and playing Azure Drake instead to avoid Sap and falling behind, or forcing your opponent to think you have Freezing Trap up when they have one big minion on board can mean the difference between a win and a loss. You basically want to leave your opponent as confused as possible with your secrets and give them a hard time!
- Secretkeeper: You always want Secretkeeper in your opening hand. It can snowball quite easily if it leaves and it can be very annoying to deal with once it starts growing. You can keep 2 of them in your hand if you draw both as well.
- Quick Shot: You should consider keeping the card if you need it against classes that have early game pressure and should use it immediately versus high threat cards. It’s a situational keep depending on what you are facing.
- Cloaked Huntress: You most definitely want to have Cloaked Huntress in all your games regardless of whether you have secrets in hand or not. I generally keep only one in hand if I draw both.
- Eaglehorn Bow: One of your primary damage/removal sources, always keep a copy in your hand in the mulligan and try to get the ‘infinite’ durability dream going.
- Animal Companion: You can keep both copies in hand if you have the coin or if you have a solid curve.
- Secrets: This is the tricky part of the mulligan phase. You need to have an understanding of the potential cards your opponents might be playing and choose the secrets you want to keep accordingly. Something like Explosive Trap might be bad versus Shaman too early in the game but it can be exceptionally good versus Mage because they have a bunch of 2 health minions in the early game. Understanding your matchups and what cards you require to predict their most efficient plays on curve will allow you to take advantage of your secrets better.
Popular Matchups and Ladder Experience
I used the deck from Rank 1874 Legend to 203 and it has performed exceptionally well so far with no super unfavorable matchups outside of Aggro Shaman. I did not face some classes at all and have left any thoughts on those less popular matchups out of the equation in this section.
Shaman: Let’s start with the king of the meta, Mid Range Shaman. The Shaman deck is the sole reason behind the success of the deck, Secret Hunter is most definitely in a great spot to compete versus the deck. Mid Range Shaman is a cakewalk most of the time and this build is currently 14-4 against the deck. Take a look below to see what the Mid Range Shaman matchup is like.
Unfortunately the same cannot be said about Aggro Shaman, who can easily deal with you because your secrets are meant to disrupt the board state but you cannot stop burst damage and weapons. However, Aggro Shaman has been a non issue for me on the EU legend ladder because there just aren’t enough of them for me to worry about.
Warrior: Any slow Warrior deck is a near auto win for you because your traps can keep their big threats at bay and you have enough time to draw into your lategame while setting up secrets and disrupting their plays. I have found consistent success against all control archetypes in general but I haven’t faced any Dragon Warrior on the matchup to be able to comment on the matchup. OTK warrior is a breeze because they will not be able to deal with your lategame and as long as you are able to get to your Freezing Traps (you have enough draw to do so) to stop their combo, you will win.
Mage: Tempo Mage is one of your favorable matchups. While I feel the burn version of Tempo Mage is extremely favored versus Mid Range Hunter, you will have no issues with Secret Hunter because of the disruptive secrets that can prevent them from getting far ahead. Freeze Mage is going to be a hard matchup and the only way to win is by proc-ing their Ice Block before they draw their Alexstrasza but it’s really hard to do so if they get a good Doomsayer turn and you end up having no answers in the deck.
Druid: Both Token Druid and Malygos Druid are favored if you plan out your secrets right. Dealing with Fandral Staghelm is one of the top priorities of the deck. Try to focus on building the board first versus them instead of damage and save cards like Freezing Trap for the late game if you are able to deal with their mid game minions and push them back and force them to play their removals sub-optimally.
Rogue: Rogue is easy to deal with through Snipes, Freezing Traps and high levels of aggression. Try to play around Sap and avoid losing tempo at all costs by forcing them to use their removals poorly. I did not face any ‘Thief’ Rogues and all my matches were versus Miracle Rogue who had a hard time avoiding all the damage. You need to hard mulligan for your Bow and the right traps in the matchup and the rest should be easy enough.
Warlock: I did not face any Renolock but Zoolock matchups have been even most of the time. If you manage to get your board control traps fast enough and prevent high amounts of damage in the early game you will be in a good spot. Try to use Freezing Trap on their high impact minions and stop their board from snowballing to gain control of the board.
Hunter: I faced a lot of mirror matchups with the same exact list and it was all about who had the better mid game, the mirror can be really tricky if there is an enemy Secretkeeper on board since you have to deal with it first before playing your traps. Mid Range Hunter is problematic for the deck because they can play around traps easily. One way to make sure your Freezing Trap gets value is by emptying your board when cards like Savannah Highmane are in play and then play your traps to get value out of them.
I did not face any decks from the other classes for more than 3 games in the 94 games I played with the deck on ladder. I do not have adequate information on how the matchups should pan out. I coached a friend to legend this season for the entire grind from Rank 20 as well.
Replacements and Tech Choices
- If you face a lot of aggressive decks you can consider cutting The Curator and Barnes in favor of 2 copies of King’s Elekk.
- Snake Trap can be replaced by a second Bear Trap.
- Ragnaros, The Firelord can be replaced by any late game threat you may have in your collection or simply an Acidic Swamp Ooze going by how popular weapons are right now.
The deck is a different approach to Hunter that actually works and I have been impressed by how effective it has been on the EU legend ladder against Mid Range Shaman and Control Warrior. There is never a dull moment with the deck and it’s really fun to play. If you are looking for a change from all of the meta decks that are around and are looking for something different that’s good on ladder then this might be the deck for you. Hope you enjoyed the guide and if you need any help or want to share your ideas feel free to do so in the comments section below. I would love to hear about your experiences with the deck!