Hey, guys! Joseph Scalise (jscaliseok) here, jumping over from Weekly Legends to bring you a different type of column. Normally I discuss one deck in great detail. However, this time around I am taking part in a new series known as “Matchup Analysis”.
In each section of this column we will look at a popular archetype and then look at how it plays against another popular deck. This will help you understand that individual matchup, how to mulligan for it, and the best way to play through each stage of the game. For today, we are going to take a look at Midrange Hunter and tell you how play it against the most popular deck in the game, Secret Paladin.
Before we begin, it is always good to familiarize yourself with some of the more popular decklists out there. Midrange Hunter is a very fluid list, and there are many card choices out there. It is a deck that is constantly evolving, and there are many choices you can pick from.
While this article will explain one particular matchup, you want to understand the inner mechanics of a deck before looking at exactly how it plays. Card choices are a large part of this. You should check out some of the decks below to get an idea of the style of Midrange Hunter you want to pilot.
Cards to KeepWebspinner Mad Scientist Haunted Creeper Ironbeak Owl
Explosive Trap and Snake Trap
Knife Juggler with another early drop.
Animal Companion with the coin.
Houndmaster with the coin and a beast coming before it (Snake Trap counts)
Piloted Shredder with the coin if you have a good curve coming before it.
When playing against Secret Paladin, it is extremely important to start out fast. This goes for all decks that play against Uther, but it is especially important for Midrange Hunter. The reason for this is your lack of AOE. Most of your minions are going to apply pressure through the threat of damage. However, Secret Paladin is a deck that can actually race that strategy by coming out fast and applying pressure of their own. You should keep that in mind when looking for mulligans.
How to Win
Midrange Hunter is a deck that heavily relies on a strong curve and big minions to finish off games. Most of the time you will pressure your opponent by slamming down big card after big card until they succumb to either burn or your hero power. However, this game plan slightly changes when playing against a deck like Secret Paladin.
This is a match where you want to play the role of a control deck. You want to use your early cards to get board advantage, which will set up your later turns. The number one priority here is to spend your first turns clearing the board.
When playing against Secret Paladin you will lose a lot of games due to plays like Mysterious Challenger into Dr. Boom. This allows them to threaten gigantic amounts of damage while also having to not care about the board state. As the Hunter, you want to do the exact same thing. You have access to both Savannah Highmane and Dr. Boom, and you can also use your hero power, Quick Shot and Kill Command to push through damage. Always take the board before turn six. While Mysterious Challenger can quickly end the game if he has an army at his side, the card does very little when you are threatening large amounts of damage.
A huge part of battling Secret Paladin is playing around their secrets. The number one secret you need to watch out for is Noble Sacrifice. While Avenge and Redemption can both be played around by attacking face, Noble Sacrifice cannot. In this way, it operates a lot like Freezing Trap. You do not want to find yourself in a situation where you are racing, and they suddenly use this secret to lock out your Savannah Highmane. Be aware this card exists, and always save a small minion or an Unleash the Hounds to make sure you can play around it.
The first two parts of the game are lumped into the same section because you are going to be playing each in the exact same way.
Kill their cards, destroy their minions and make sure they can’t take board control to set up Mysterious Challenger.
All of your two drops are essential here. Haunted Creeper and Mad Scientist both do a good job of taking care of Shielded Minibot. They also do a very good job of challenging Muster for Battle for when you don’t have Unleash the Hounds or Knife Juggler.
Clear as much as possible and try to get as much value out of your deathrattle cards as you can.
Play around early secrets, and always make sure to be ready for both Avenge and Redemption. Never trade a two health minion into a secret just in case of Noble Sacrifice.
Late Game Strategy
Once turn six rolls around you want to be aggressive. Threaten their life total, put them on the back foot and force them to trade rather than try to win.
One of the old rules of Hearthstone is, you can’t race a Hunter. That was true in the early days of beta, and it’s true now. Damage is your greatest advantage in this matchup, and it is the thing that gives you that late game edge. Turns one through five, your damage cards are removal. At this stage they are ways to win the game.
Always try to keep Kill Commands in this matchup if you can afford it. They are also the only way outside of Ironbeak Owl that you can get through Tirion Fordring. When they start to go big, hit them in the face and go bigger.
This stays true even if you’re behind.
For example, normally Unleash the Hounds is a card you want to use to take care of the board. However, when you’re losing on board in the late stages of the game you might just use it to push through four or five damage. If you cannot deal with Secret Paladin’s board immediately you will fall behind. Damage is the way to win when that happens.
If you are in a race, or if you think they might kill you if you start to trade, go face. This isn’t always the right play, but if you can’t race a 10/8 Mysterious Challenger then get aggressive and give yourself a chance to draw a clutch burn spell.
Well, there it is. My first foray into the “Matchup Analysis” world. I hope you guys enjoyed the article, and many more are sure to follow. Hearthstone is an ever-changing game, and it helps to look into individual matchups. As always, let me know what you think of the breakdown in the comments, and I’ll see you all next time!