When playing on the ladder there are some decks that you are always going to need be ready for. Aggro Hunter is at the top of that list because it will run you over if you aren’t ready for it. Whether you are playing control, midrange or aggro you should always have Rexxar and his hero power somewhere in the back of your mind. In this guide we will look at how one of the most aggressive decks in the game, Aggro Druid, fights against Face Hunter using a more board-control style of aggression.
While most of the cards in Aggro Druid are pretty set in stone (you have to play Swipe and Fel Reaver), there are a couple of spots that you can play with. Never just take a deck at face value. While someone else may have had success with a certain build, you should always try to tweak a deck to best suit your play style and current needs. There are a lot of one-of’s and tech cards that Aggro Druid can play in order to make it more face or combo oriented. To help you understand the way you can build on the base deck, two popular versions of it have been linked below.
When going up against Hunter you need to be able to start out as fast as you can. Due to their low curve they are almost always going to have a one-two-three curve. You need to match that. If you don’t, chances are you are going fall behind. That will allow them to dictate the pace of the game, which you cannot allow. When mulliganing, always look for you low cost cards and early ramp. Everything else should be thrown back. You want to play early cards in order to match theirs. In addition, always play to your ramp. Innervate and Darnassus Aspirant will both affect what you keep. While you never want to keep something like Druid of the Claw early on, it is a must keep if you can play it on turn two or three. Those type of decisions will affect your mulligans more than anything else.
Cards to KeepInnervate Leper Gnome Living Roots Knife Juggler Darnassus Aspirant Druid of the Saber
Shade of Naxxramas can be kept if you have a play before it or early ramp.
Swipe can be kept with the coin or a very strong opening, but you never want to value it over minions.
Piloted Shredder can be kept only with the coin and a good curve.
Keeper of the Grove is one of your best early plays. It should always be kept if you have the coin or ramp.
How to Win
Damage is the way you are going to win this one. Obvious? Maybe. However, it is also true. The best way to win this matchup is to understand how each deck wins. Face Hunter just hits you and keeps on hitting until you die. You can start out fast, but most of the game is going to be spent controlling the board, and then building on that control to push damage through. Hunter is just building to a point where they can finish you off with burn like Kill Command, where you need to stay alive long enough to get a lethal Savage Roar or Force of Nature.
You are going to spend most of the game trying to get good trades (keeping your minions alive) while also hitting your opponent in the face. Both you and your opponent can do a lot of face damage. Unfortunately, they can do a lot of damage much earlier on in the game than you can. Even if you do get board control, they can still kill you out of nowhere with spells and their hero power. As a result, try to threaten as much damage and keep them on their back foot. Every trade or spell they use to kill one of your minions is less damage going to your face.
This game is all about trying to find a balance between killing their minions and pushing for damage. If you have a two turn lethal you should always set it up if you aren’t in range of immediately dying. If you are moving towards the combo you can be a little more conservative, since all you need to do is stay alive until turn nine. However, always remember that it is very hard to fight for board once you fall behind in life. If you are in range of dying, sometimes the only way to win is to push for face and hope they don’t have it.
This is not a waiting game. While sometimes you want to meticulously trade or find the best combination of minions, you don’t have that luxury here. Be as proactive as possible, using your threats and potential damage to make Hunter second guess blindly going face.
Early Game Strategy
The first turns of the game won’t decide everything, but they will set the tone. Both Aggro Druid and Face Hunter have very little comeback options. Rather, they depend on end-game burst to climb back into games where they are falling behind. That option works against a lot of decks, but it is a lot weaker when the deck you are playing is faster than you.
Knife Juggler is vitally important here. Almost all of Face Hunter’s early minions, ranging from Leper Gnome to Worgen Infiltrator, have one health. A good juggler here or there can put Hunter in a disastrous position. Not only can it clear off their board, but it also forces them to spend their turn killing the juggler, which is an immense tempo swing. You either want to play the gnome onto an empty board, or save it to get some pings in when you can.
Innervate is a huge card that can win you the game on the spot. For all of their early burst and quick damage, Face Hunter does not have a lot of ways to deal with big minions. Even something like a turn two Keeper of the Grove can give them fits because of the four health. Anytime that you can power out a large minion you should. As stated, while you may wait in some matches, play everything as quickly as possible here.
Darnassus Aspirant should be protected at all costs. Ramping is your one big advantage over Hunter, and you want to utilize it as much as you can. Even trading away a Shade of Naxxramas or a charged Druid of the Saber is the right move if it helps Darnassus live an extra turn.
Always try to trigger Explosive Trap early on. That card can really disrupt your combo and charge minions. As a result, it just gets better and better as the game goes on. If you can, try to break it on your turn with mana available. This will minimize the damage it does while also letting you play a minion.
The last note is to always understand how to use Living Roots. If you have it out on turn one, or if you can combo it with Knife Juggler, you should get the two saplings. Otherwise this card should just be removal or face damage. It rarely is damage, but the one mana helps you add to the board while also killing off things like Mad Scientist and Knife Juggler.
Your two most important middle game options are Piloted Shredder and Fel Reaver. Each of those is extremely hard for Face Hunter to deal with, gives you great trades (if you need it) and cannot be ignored due to the damage potential. While this game is going to be a very fast slug fest, each of those cards slows it down by forcing Hunter to actually care about your minions. This is great since it allows you to go face and let them figure out how not to die.
Keeper of the Grove is also a very strong option that puts down a 2/4 body that Hunter has a lot of trouble dealing with. While two damage is most often how this is going to be used, silence can be very strong. Never underestimate how important shutting down a Mad Scientist or Leper Gnome can be when racing.
These are the turns where Knife Juggler/Unleash the Hounds is a big problem. Outside of Explosive Trap, it is Hunter’s only AOE. You never want to extend too far into it. Sometimes, if you are pushing for damage you have no choice but to play a lot of minions. However, you typically only want to use one or two large beaters to limit what your opponent can do.
Do not be afraid to Swipe face. That is normally a very weak play against a lot of decks, but it can give you four extra damage and, because of Hunter’s weak minions, also clear out some (if not all) of their board.
The last key card here is Druid of the Claw. This card is great because it can be charged for damage or removal, or it can be used defensively. As an aggro deck you have very little ways to combat other aggro decks. Druid of the Claw allows you a very powerful taunt option just in case you need it. Yes, it will be met with Ironbeak Owl most of the time, but if they don’t have the bird the druid can single-handedly win you the game.
Late Game Strategy
If you get to the late game (which often will not happen), it will usually be in one state: your opponent desperately trying to kill you off before you assemble Force of Nature/Savage Roar. When this happens you want to just stay alive long enough to use your burst. Face Hunter has very little ways to interact with your combo, and will often do their best to ignore it.
Never get too careless. Hunter almost always has some form of burn or immediate damage in hand. While you need to push and be proactive, you don’t want to lose just because you didn’t want to kill a Knife Juggler or Wolfrider. The later the game goes, the better your busts gets.
If life totals are high, Dr. Boom can work just like Fel Reaver in that it is so large Hunter cannot simply ignore it. If you are not in danger range, always drop the doctor as soon as possible. Even if Hunter ignores it and tries to race, the three minions can often be combined with Savage Roar for a quick lethal.
Never be afraid to use Savage Roar. You have two of them, and one can always be used to clear out the board or to just scare Hunter into being more reactive. It is also a very good tool to use when you have a bunch of small minions on the board to set up the all-important two turn lethal.