Hey guys! Manveer here and this is my first guide here. I’m a well-known player among the Indian Hearthstone community and a Hunter enthusiast. Hunter has had been my favorite class since I started playing like a year ago. Being an f2p player back then, the cheapness and the effectiveness of the class were the major factors that made me fall in love with it.
Well, before Whispers of the Old Gods, when everything else failed, one could always fall back to good old Rexxar to get those wins, be it face or midrange. I myself used to run mostly variants of hybrid and midrange lists, consistently getting high ranks and tournament wins. No wonder I was bummed when the rotation policy was announced. Hunter lost many of its important tools, including Mad Scientist and Haunted Creeper, probably two of the best 2-drops in the game. Not to mention the nerfs on Knife Juggler and Leper Gnome.
With the rise of Shaman as the new face of aggro archetype and all things considered, people were quick to write off Hunter. But well, you simply don’t write off Rexxar. The class might have lost many important pieces, but that doesn’t mean the class is dead. Just the playstyle has changed. After all, Hunter did get one of the best epics in the expansion in Call of the Wild! One of these is enough to win you the game. The playstyle has become a more board centric one. You will always want to keep board presence and push the final damage with your big minions and Call of the Wild.
It took people some time to realize the potential of the class, but it is surely making a comeback on the ladder. You might have seen various midrange lists doing the rounds. Might not be the strongest deck around, but sure is fun to play!
Let the Hunt Begin!
Let us take a look at a couple of lists. This will give you more of an insight on how to tech against the Meta and how to go about making changes according to your own play-style.
Firstly, my own list, which I have had been using since the onset of the season, much before the burst of Hunter on ladder. I have managed to get to rank 2 with this list without much of an effort. Once we are done with this, we will move on the new refined version of the deck doing the rounds on the ladder.
Before explaining the card choices let me put it out there that this is NOT a face deck. You almost always want to control the board, which shouldn’t be difficult if you get a decent start, considering the quality of the minions in this deck. Once you have the game in control, you can always flip the switch and shift to face mode when your opponent is sufficiently low and you know that you have enough burst over the next couple of turns. Or you can just wait for Call of the Wild to do the job. When to go for the kill will usually depend on the opponent’s deck and playstyle.
What makes this deck good?
What make this deck good are the flexibility and the consistency it provides. It also has insane potential to counter the Meta. You can tech for almost anything, keeping the core of the deck intact.
Fiery Bat – The only 1-drop you want to play in this deck. Might seem underwhelming by itself, but with luck you will be able to contest most of the 1 and 2 drops. Also, if nothing else, the beast tag alone makes it viable for this deck. You can get immediate value from Houndmaster and Kill Command.
Freezing Trap – With Scientist gone, many people have been cutting out traps from their decks. Well, don’t. The traps are still very powerful themselves. Extra Bow charges don’t hurt either.
Now Freezing Trap can be amazing in this Meta. You can Freeze the Rogue’s stealthed minion to get a guaranteed win. Freezing Shaman’s Flamewreathed Faceless or simply any of the Druid’s big minions will give you a huge tempo swing.
Explosive Trap – This trap is optional and you should only play if facing a lot of aggressive decks, especially Zoo. I included a copy since I was facing a lot of Zoo decks in the lower ranks. Think of it as a board clear. A good Explosive against Zoo should give you a lot of room to work with. With the decline of Zoo, this card will probably be the first one to get the axe.
Flame Juggler – One of the best neutral 2 drops in the game. A lucky Juggle can seal you the game on second turn. Unlucky juggle? You still have a 2/3 for 2 mana which is pretty decent in itself.
Kings-Elekk – Another card people are cutting for Toads. Alright, Toad can help you with the board against early aggression if you get lucky, sure, but this deck can do that anyway. You have Jugglers for that and Fiery Bats for that. If you get lucky with Elekk though, control matchups become a lot easier. You’re sure to curve out and keep up the board pressure and swing the game with Call of the Wild.
Acidic Swamp Ooze – Amazing value against Warriors and Shamans. Even removing a single axe charge means protecting a minion, while removing Gorehowl or Doomhammer is heavenly bliss. Also, fills up another 2-drop spot that this deck desperately needed with Knife Juggler becoming useless.
Quick Shot – Standard 3 damage spell at 2 mana, which is pretty much always worth the value. Can give you board control, extra reach and even conditional draw power. No reason not to play this card.
Deadly Shot – This card has been putting in some work. Remove a big minion to get a swing turn. Debatable if to play this card or a second freezing trap or even a hunter’s mark. Might just remove this for Hunter’s Mark myself.
Animal Companion, Kill Command – These two need no explanation. Two of the best class cards in the game and will continue to be played in Hunter decks for years to come.
Eaglehorn Bow – No reason not to play this card. Even if getting extra charges has become difficult, this card can still provide board control and even the final push if need be.
Carrion Grub – A solid 3 drop that also helps you curve out. Amazing Synergy with Houndmaster. Might cut one to include something else, but I like the double here as it provides consistency.
Unleash the Hounds – This card isn’t as good as it used to be. With Jugglers gone, this might seem underwhelming at times. Many people have actually been cutting it, and I don’t really blame them. It’s dead in some matchups. I still think it is worth playing though because it can swing you the game against multiple aggressive and midrange decks, especially the mirror match. You should maybe play just a single copy if you are facing more controls than board centric decks.
Houndmaster – Amazing if you can get value out of it, which is almost always considering the huge number of beasts in this deck. Not only does this provide you with a taunt to counter aggressive decks, it also allows you to push more damage and get better trades. A Carrion Grub into Houndmaster on curve is absolutely savage.
Stampeding Kodo – A single Kodo has been working wonders. Killing a totem or even Bloodhoof feels good. Nothing matches the feeling of killing that Doomsayer. And you can taunt it using Houndmaster for more value.
Stranglethorn Tiger – The good ol’ Tiger. You might have seen recent lists featuring this beast and I’m very glad that people are finally starting to use this. This has been a more than perfect replacement for Loatheb. Assured damage if your opponent doesn’t taunt up and more value if you can combo it with Houndmaster or Call of the Wild. Perfect card to set up lethal for the coming turn.
Savannah Highmane – The legendary that never was. Doctor Six. Highmane is a threat which while needs to be dealt with immediately, is not really that easy to take care of. Dropping him will almost assure you some board presence going into the next turns, which you can use to you advantage to combo with Call of the Wild for extra damage.
Call of the Wild – This card is the reason Hunter is still viable after losing so many major tools. All you have to do is to control the board and this will give you the win most of the times. I’ve had some insane moments with this card.
Let there be Doom!
Now, since that is done and dusted, it is time to talk about possible additions and substitutions. But before that, let us look at another list, the likes of which have become prevalent on the ladder in the last week. For this article, I’ll be using Thijs’s list as a reference, the one which he posted on Twitter.
As you can see, this is a much slower list more suited for the control Meta. I actually like this list very much. It is elegant and consistent. Since most of the card choices are the same and fulfill the same functionality, let us just look at the differences.
Doomsayer – This card has been a genius addition to the hunter archetype. With no 1-drops and relatively smaller early game, Doomsayer can work wonders at getting you the board initiative back. Or you can just use it to clear before the Rhino/ Call of the Wild turn. Take care while playing against Zoo decks though. They will almost always have that crazed alchemist ready. If you are facing a lot of Zoo decks, you are probably better off playing the earlier list.
Infested Wolf – Great card in a slower environment. Not Piloted Shredder, but sticky nonetheless. And a beast which spawns two more beasts!
Ram Wrangler – Too dependent on RNG for me to like it. I might be just my personal bias, but I don’t really like this card. Can give you a huge swing, sure, but can also end up with you wasting your turn. Absolutely not worth it against aggressive decks.
Tundra Rhino – Game over if you can make it stick and follow up with Call of the Wild. Definitely worth trying out. I don’t recommend playing more than one copy myself.
Now that we have looked at two different variations and understood the card choices, let us take at other cards that might come in handy.
Princess Huhuran – The new hunter legendary is amazing in this deck. You can probably replace the Stranglethorn Tiger to include the card. While it doesn’t have stealth, if you managed to trigger a Wolf or a Highmane, you’ll have the board presence anyway.
Dreadscale – Amazing board clear against Zoo decks and equally good in mirror matchups. The Ravaging Ghoul Hunter always had.
Cult Master – Only play against slower decks if you are facing lack of draw power. It is recommended to play two copies of Unleash the Hounds if you want to play this card.
Hunters-Mark – This card is debatable over Deadly Shot and Freezing Trap. The choice depends upon the matchup, really. For most part, I’ll recommend playing whichever card you feel more comfortable with.
Frankly, there is room for a lot of flexibility and tech choices in this deck. As long as the core remains intact, this will always work. So go ahead, choose your poison!
Matchups and Key Cards
This is a deck where you want a good curve, no matter the opponent. If you have a solid curve, you can go ahead and Mulligan for specific matchups. You basically almost always want to get these cards to curve out.
Fiery Bat and King’s Elekk/Huge Toad/Flame Juggler – Juggler, Toad and Bat should be your choices against aggressive decks while Elekk is the perfect choice for slower matchups. A key draw at this point can go a long way in deciding the game.
You may also keep Animal Companion and Eaglehorn Bow if you have the coin.
Let us take a look at a general strategy to be followed while facing different classes.
Shaman – This is a race, but that doesn’t mean you have to simply go face. Get early board control and then flip the switch at the right moment. Doomsayer can swing the game in your favor against Midrange Shaman as they don’t have that much of a burst to remove it.
Hunter – This match is again a race. Try to keep the board control and constantly push for face damage. Houndmasters and your traps are key cards in this matchup. Try to get a good starting curve with your 2-drops as whoever gets the better start usually ends up winning this game
Zoo – Unleash the Hounds and Explosive Trap at the right moment should go a long way in helping you take the board. Once you have the board against Zoo, its game over for them. Also, you can use their hero power to your advantage. Try to taunt up when you are a bit low on health because the current Zoo decks have insane burst potential.
Paladin/Warrior/Priest/Renolock – Don’t overextend. Just try to keep the board presence and keep pushing constant damage. Try to bait out removals with lesser threats. Play around board clears. Call of the Wild is the key card here.
Druid – Druids don’t have that good removal, so you should be fine most of the times if you are able to deal with the big minions. Save your Hunter’s Mark/Deadly shot for the right time.
Rogue – The game gets a lot easier if you manage to get a good start. Try to maintain board presence and keep pushing damage and the rogue will be on defensive for most of the game. You can burst them down with Call of the Wild.
I am quite involved with Hearthstone and try to push as high as possible each month peaking at about Rank 2 or 3 consistently. I have already managed to pilot this list from rank 15 to rank 2 with minimal losses. Hoping to get that to the Promised Land soon! Since this is a holiday month, I will try to get up there once I get some more free time, and if I can resist my urge to play Arena.
So that’s it folks. Everything I had to say about this beautiful deck. Do let me know in the comments or on Twitter (ManveerS_07) if I made any mistakes or missed out on something. It will be much appreciated. You can also add me up on Mighty#1147 (NA) if you need to ask anything.
So what are you waiting for? I WILL HUNT YOU DOWN!