Mastering the Hybrid Hunter: Advanced Guide

Top tier deck that combines strengths of Face and Mid-Range Hunter. Matchups, mulligan, tech & alternate cards.

This is part 2 of the Mastering the Hybrid Hunter extensive deck guide series. It is split into 3 main guides:

This guide will cover advanced strategies, tech choices and alternate cards.

Advanced Strategy

We’re gonna divide enemy decks into three categories, depending on their speed: fast, medium and slow, because that’s going to affect how we play our cards and strategy. The basic strategy was explained in part 1 of the series, so you might want to check that out if you haven’t yet. We’re also going to talk briefly about special strategy you might try against any deck in the section ‘Mind Games’.

Vs Fast Decks

This is the most difficult kind of deck to play against as a Hybrid Hunter. You’re generally playing on the back foot. Your deck runs no reliable Taunts and no heals. Your only real Anti-Aggro card is unleash-the-hounds (and knife-juggler to some extent). It usually means that it’s really hard to stabilize. What you need to do is to gain board control and keep it. You can’t let enemy Fast deck flood the board, unless you have the Juggler + Unleash combo (then you might want him to do it on purpose, if you can afford losing some life).

You want to Mulligan for early game. leper-gnome is a great card in the matchup. It trades with most of their early drops. glaivezooka is another must-keep. Keeping board control with weapons cost your life, but it’s worth in the long run. Glaivezooka works wonders especially if you have a minion on the board already. Another card you want to play early is haunted-creeper. One Creeper can kill up to three 1 health guys. In conjunction with Glaivezooka or abusive-sergeant it may also trade up. mad-scientist is another great keep.The trap doesn’t get that much value in this matchup, but you get it for free. Don’t feel bad even if it freezes the 1/1, and freezing a 2-drop is great.

quick-shot is good at killing their 2-drops. When it comes to the 3-drops, eaglehorn-bow is the best one. It allows you to kill 2 guys – it helps with regaining tempo and board control. animal-companion, depending on the outcome, may be great. You don’t want huffer. The 2 health is too low, enemy can kill him easily. You’re often gonna have to charge him into a smaller minion. leokk is fine because of 4 health, but loses against 3 heath minions. misha is the absolute best thing you can get against Fast decks. Enemy often has to sacrifice two minions into your Taunt. wolfrider is not the best one, if he’s your only turn 3 play, you usually trade him with enemy 2-drop. arcane-golem sucks in the early game, so don’t play it.

Try to use your every resource to keep the board control. For example, kill-command should often be used to clear minions and not kept to deal damage. If you don’t kill everything, the game will spiral out of control. If you clear the board, you’re the one with better Mid Game.

Don’t care about efficiency. Care about survival, you’re gonna get the value back. When it comes to the 4-drops, piloted-shredder is a nice thing to use on turn 4. It will often trade 2 for 1. You don’t want to Hero Power as often in this matchup. You’d rather drop another minion, even 1-drop, than Hero Power. You need to play much faster game. loatheb might help you survive one more turn against decks that have some spell reach. savannah-highmane is pretty useless against Fast decks. It’s too slow and comes too late. If you can choose between 2 smaller minions and Highmane, go for the first option. Drop Highmane only once you stabilize, or when you have no other viable options. Fast matchups are mostly hard, but not impossible to win. If they get a great start, they might just rush you down.

Vs Medium Speed Decks

This category has a wide range of decks and thus the most tricky out of the 3 to handle. If you play the deck that has around the same speed as you, the tempo will shift one way or another. You’re a favorite in most of those matchups. Medium speed matchups are really draw-dependant. Draws determine who is gonna have the initiative. Even something so small as having 1-drop against not having 1-drop may change the pace of the game. Like in Fast matchups, board control is most important. Hybrid Hunter has a lot of tools to control the board early in the game. You want to mulligan for those – your early drops, your weapons, your Quick Shot. You also want to keep Animal Companion, since the card is great.

Unlike in Fast matchup, however, you want to play value game to some extent. Use your Hero Power when you can, but try to play on curve. Using every point of your mana each turn is important. Medium speed decks tend to run more removals than Fast ones. For example, against Mid-Range Paladin, don’t overextend with too many 2 health minions. If you do, you lose to consecration. Think about what enemy can do and play around it. You don’t need to flood the whole board. 2 minions at the time is enough, 3 if they’re sticky (Mad Scientist, Haunted Creeper, Piloted Shredder).

And the most important thing – pushing for damage.  A common mistake is not knowing when to stop controlling the board and start pushing for damage, removing only the key minions and letting enemy do the trades.

  • If you do it too early, you might not finish your opponent before he takes the board initiative.
  • If you do it too late, enemy might draw some answers and reset the board state.

You need to take the board state, your hand and matchup into account and find the right moment for the push. Loatheb is a great card when that moment comes. If you already have 2-3 threats on the board and you drop Loatheb, you might get a big push by ignoring enemy board. You get some damage this turn, and enemy isn’t likely to clear your board without being able to use spells. Enemy might kill one or maybe two of your minions, but you still have the tempo on your side and you can keep going.

When you are try to close the game, you want to do it as fast as you can. The push shouldn’t last for more than 2-3 turns, because enemy might draw the answers, taunts etc. Be sure to calculate how much damage can you deal in the worst case scenario. Sometimes you don’t have a choice and you need to assume he doesn’t have any defensive tools, but don’t go for the face rush if enemy is at 25 health and you can only reliably deal about 15 damage. On the other hand, you need to play to win.

If you’re slowly losing board control, and you know that you won’t win the value game for much longer, just go for the face. Take the chances when they’re still pretty high rather than slowly lose the control of the game. As a Hybrid Hunter, you can adapt. Change the play styles through the game. Be aggressive when you need and control the pace when it’s beneficial to you.

Vs Slow Decks

Slow decks are mainly Control decks or combo/hard-to-classify decks like Freeze Mage, Ramp Druid or Malygos Warlock.

Against Slow decks, you’re gonna be an aggressor. That doesn’t mean mindlessly rushing for the face. When you face Slow decks, you also want to play slower. If you get a really good aggressive start, you might try to go for it in some matchup. But generally, you’re in no rush. Some players even opt to keep savannah-highmane against certain decks (like Control Warrior).

In comparison to previous matchups, keeping the board presence will be much harder. Slow decks run a lot of removals and may deal with all of your early stuff. Many slow decks tech zombie-chow to have some answer against faster decks. Efficiently removing a 3 health 1-drop may be hard. You expect your early drops to be removed, so try to not throw your valuable one – knife-juggler – first, unless you have no other play. Start with the ones that are worse against early removals (like fiery-war-axe of wrath). Skipping an early turn is not a big deal, but try to not do that.

Your Cards Are Precious

You often need every card you’ll draw in the first 10 turns to win. Here, you want to Hero Power as much as you can. If you get a choice between throwing a small minion and Hero Powering, go for the latter. You still might play the card on next turn, but you will never get the Hero Power value back.

Don’t Overextend

It’s one of the most common mistakes. You might feel that you’re in control of the game when you have have 3 minions on the board and enemy is at 15 health. You may think about throwing 2 more to kill him faster. Don’t do that. Slow decks tend to run a lot of AoE. Don’t throw all of your resources into the board at once. Always have some minions in your hand, so you can refill the board in case it gets AoE’d. If you feel that you really need to have a lot of things on the board, they should be your sticky Deathrattle creatures. It means that even after the clear, you still have some board presence or other benefits, like freezing-trap from Mad Scientist.

The trap, depending on the deck you play against, might be really great. If he drops a medium/big minion with no immediate effect (piloted-shredder, sylvanas-windrunner, voidcaller), you don’t want to trade with it. Playing Freezing Trap is great, because even if he doesn’t proc it – he can’t attack with his minion. It’s rendered useless until he pops the trap. Remember that it doesn’t work that well against taunts. On lower level, opponents might still attack thinking it’s explosive-trap. Especially if you have a really aggressive start, they might think you’re Face Hunter. But don’t rely on it to work. So, if enemy drops a big Taunt, you have two options. Either kill it (especially if you have additional damage in your hand, weapons, abusive-sergeant) or Silence it. That’s when ironbeak-owl comes handy. Running 2 of those is great against Slow decks. Silenced minion no longer serves its purpose, and enemy will have to do the trades. If you have a really smooth way to kill the taunt, you might want to do that instead of Silencing, if you feel that Owl will get better value later.

Mind Games

Be sneaky. Don’t show all your cards when you don’t need to. And on the other hand, make opponent think you have the cards you don’t really have. Mind games are important.

If you have a lot of burn in your hand, don’t just throw it on enemy, even if you’re pushing for damage. If you know that the deck runs Taunts and heals, getting it down to 5 health by using 2 Kill Commands is not good. You’d rather let them stay at 15 health. You want him to think that he may still wait one turn before healing, to feel safe. He might drop something slow, he might try to do a value play. From his perspective, he’s playing to win, and his play gives him the most winning chance. But he doesn’t know your hand, and you have to use it for your advantage. When you get him down to 5 health, he might do many things. He might Sludge Belcher + Healbot. He might alexstrasza himself back to 15. Using your burn prematurely only works out against deck that you are sure don’t run any defensive cards, or have used all of them already.

Another example of mind games – you’re playing against Aggro Paladin. It’s turn 3 and he has 3 minions on the board. You have only one good play – using eaglehorn-bow to clear one of them. Don’t play it instantly. Hover over your cards and wait. Pretend you have some options and you think. After some time, play Eaglehorn Bow. Opponent is gonna think that you were wondering about other plays, possibly unleash-the-hounds or explosive-trap. It means that opponent might take his next turn slow and just Hero Power. He doesn’t want to overextend into any of those cards. Even though you don’t have them, you want to make him think about them.

You can also mess with your enemy thanks to the Secrets. It doesn’t always work, but sometimes you have to take the risk. Enemy has terrible board against Explosive Trap and you top deck a Freezing Trap. And mind you, this play is risky, so do it only if you really have no other options. If you play the top decked Freezing really fast, almost without thinking, and say “Sorry”, enemy will think it’s Explosive. He might not fall for it and just attack, but sometimes he’s not gonna attack with anything, play something and pass the turn. You might draw something next turn or you might have been one turn off the Juggler + Unleash combo for example that will is your only way to come back into the game. Don’t try it if you have other options, but if you don’t, it’s worth to try everything.

Mess with your opponent’s thoughts. Hunter is one of the best decks to do that.

Alternate Cards

If you’re looking for the cards you might want to add to be stronger against certain matchups, read the next section – Tech Cards. In this section, we’re gonna discuss what cards you might switch in general, what are different approaches to the deck and how small changes may affect your play style.

Weapon Choices

When it comes to the weapons, there are three different approaches. You might try every of them and see how they work out for you. The most greedy one is running two copies of each. Some Hunter lists do that. It is greedy, because with 4 early game weapons your hand might get clogged. In Hybrid Hunter, with more controly play style, you usually don’t want to throw the weapon charges into enemy face for no reason. Your Eaglehorn Bow played on turn 3 often lasts until turn 5 or 6, before it gets a good target to hit. If you drew 2 other weapons during those turns, they would be dead cards. With only 3 weapons, the chances you draw all of them at the start are lesser.

The second approach is 2x Eaglehorn Bow and 1x Glaivezooka. Some value Eaglehorn Bow higher than Glaivezooka. The approach isn’t necessarily wrong, because Eaglehorn Bow often gets more value than the other one. You have a higher chance to draw one to combo with your traps. Bows potentially can have up to 2 additional charges. You also can kill 3 health minions with the Bow. Sometimes, however, you waste the damage. Killing 1 or 2 health minions with 3 damage weapon is not the most efficient play.

The most popular configuration is 2x Glaivezooka and 1x Eaglehorn Bow. Glaivezooka really fits the deck. It gives you a mix between aggression and board control. You might use it defensively, to protect your minions, it might help your minions trade up, and you can drop it to push for the damage. The +1 attack buff can also potentially deal a lot of damage if the minion stays on the board for a couple of turns. Glaivezooka can fit your curve better. You might use it one turn earlier (crucial against cards like whirling-zap-o-matic or knife-juggler) or combo it on turn 5 with wolfrider / unleash-the-hounds. Overall, it’s more versatile than Bow.

Ironbeak Owl

The standard Protohype’s list runs only 1 Owl. We’ve switched one haunted-creeper for the second Owl. If you play only one, you don’t want to use it recklessly. You want to keep it for the key cards that stop you, like Taunts. With two Owls in the deck, Silence can be used more as a value tool. In mirror, you might silence mad-scientist and still have the second one for savannah-highmane. Against Zoo, turn 2 nerubian-egg often snowballs the game. No matter what you drop, enemy might kill it with the egg (+abusive-sergeant/power-overwhelming). Silencing Egg kills the 4/4 minion. It also is great way to deal with voidcaller. Enemy won’t be able to get turn 5 doomguard or malganis which usually wins them the game. Against Warrior, you might want to Silence acolyte-of-pain to deny card draws, but with only one Owl you need to save it for the Belchers. Second Owl also boosts your win rate against Ramp Druid.

On the other hand, running 2 Haunted Creepers makes your deck more consistent. Haunted Creeper is great 2-drop against Fast decks, and a good thing to bait enemy removals. The card is really solid. It has couple of flaws, though. When you take some of the most popular matchups – Zoo Warlock and Patron Warrior -Haunted Creeper is really bad against imp-gang-boss and grim-patron, as it feeds them and gives enemy additional minions.

Unleash the Hounds

Again, you have a choice between one and two copies. Old deck list has ran 2x wolfrider and only one Unleash. It was better against Control decks, because Unleash rarely gets good value in slow games. Those enemies tend to not drop more than 2-3 minions at once, often even stay at one. Wolfrider helps when you need the reach to kill slow decks. It’s also much more reliable turn 3 play. However, in the current meta, we recommend using two copies of Unleash the Hounds and only one Wolfrider.

The reason is that you face a lot of decks that tend to run many minions. Zoo Warlock and Face Hunter are popular on the ladder all the time. And Unleash is crucial against both of those. Wolfrider, on the other hand, doesn’t get enough value against those, and doesn’t combo so well.

This choice mainly depends on what archetype of deck you play most. If it’s more towards Aggro, double Unleash is better. If it’s more Control, Wolfrider is a better bet.

Leeroy Jenkins

Leeroy could be put into the deck as another way to finish the game. You’d like to put it instead of arcane-golem because they serve similar purposes. On the one hand, Leeroy is better, because it deals 2 more damage. On the other hand, in later game you might drop Arcane Golem not as a finisher, but as a way to just do 4 damage / trade with something. It’s harder with Leeroy, because it gives enemy minions.

Leeroy has also some synergy with unleash-the-hounds. It spawns 2 Whelps for enemy, so you get 2 more hounds from Unleash. Leeroy + Unleash + Hero Power deals at least 10 damage, going up with the number of minions enemy has on the board. An ultimate late game combo is knife-juggler + Leeroy + Unleash. The card has some potential, but we leave it for you to decide whether it’s worth to put in the deck.

Tech Choices

There are some card you might consider adding to your deck if you face certain matchups. Those cards are more specific and often don’t work in different matchups, so you need to base those choices around your ladder experience.

Explosive Trap

One of the cards you might want to run is Explosive Trap. The Secret helps greatly against fast decks and medium speed decks. Against slow decks, it’s usually just 2 more damage and Freezing is better most of time. Besides the Unleash, you have no other AoE. It means that if enemy establishes board control and you don’t draw Unleash, it’s really hard to win that game. Good side of running Explosive Trap is that enemy often won’t expect it. When they see Shredders, they often assume that you’re the slower build and run 2x Freezing. It might work in your favor. Enemy with a board full of minions might attack you, thinking it’s a Freezing Trap and actually clearing his whole board. They won’t always fall for that, but it happens.

You certainly don’t want to run two Explosives and no Freezings. You might run one of each or try to fit additional trap into the deck. If you face a lot of Fast decks, you might consider taking out one savannah-highmane and putting Explosive, because Highmane is too slow. Having two different Secrets makes drawing them from mad-scientist a little less reliable. With 2 Freezings, when Mad Scientist dies you know what you’re gonna get and can prepare for it. Having additional Explosive may ruin some of your plans.

Kezan Mystic

You might want to include it when you face a lot of Hunters and Mages. It boosts your win rate in those matchups by a significant amount. Good against Face Hunter, which is probably your worst matchup. Stealing Explosive Trap turns the game around. Ultimate counter to the Freeze Mage. The matchup isn’t bad anyway, but it makes it even better.

Stealing ice-block not only might guarantee you easy lethal, but also can save you when you’re in a bad spot. Makes you a favorite against Tempo Mage, stealing mirror-entity removes tempo from the enemy and gives it to you instead. Great in mirror matchup, additional Freezing is good against their 4+ drops. If you want to include Kezan Mystic, you probably want to put it instead of one piloted-shredder. However, you need to remember that Kezan is a lot worse in other matchups.

Harrison Jones

Control Warrior is getting back into the spotlight again. It means that Mid-Range Paladin might probably follow, because he’s a great Warrior counter. With the addition of ever-present Patron Warriors and Hunters, you might think about teching in something to counter weapons. Weapons are big part of all of those decks, so using Harrison might work well. The card can get crazy value and tempo (destroying weapon AND drawing card). Against Patron Warrior it can stop the combos. If you don’t have Harrison Jones, you might use acidic-swamp-ooze instead. You probably want to switch either piloted-shredder or loatheb if you want to include Harrison.

Taunt Giver

If you’re facing a lot of aggressive decks, and explosive-trap isn’t enough, you can think about trying a taunt giver. There are two good options – houndmaster and defender-of-argus. The first card is more aggressive. The 4/3 body is much better than 2/3. It also doesn’t require 2 creatures on the board to get a full value. On the other hand, Defender of Argus might give you two taunts, and doesn’t require beasts to work.

Both of those cards, besides giving a taunt, can be used at pushing for damage. Not only the minion gets +2 attack, but your more valuable (knife-juggler) or fragile (abusive-sergeant) minions are also protected. With Defender of Argus, you can get your your 1-drops out of ping range, while Houndmaster can make a great 4/6 taunt from leokk, or boost misha to 6/6. Ultimately, both of those cards serve similar purpose. You again probably want to take out Shredder to put one of them in.

Closing

This was Part 2 of the Mastering the Hybrid Hunter extensive deck guide series. Be sure to check out the next part: