Though Hunter as a class has fallen off in popularity over the past few months, Camel Hunter is still a very strong deck that matches up well against most of the popular decks in the meta. One of those decks is Control Priest, a premier archetype that can take over any game with strong AOE, good healing and powerful spot removal. This guide will break down that deck and analyse how Camel Hunter, by playing carefully, can carefully deconstruct Priest’s control-style gameplan.
While there is only one true “Camel Hunter” deck, understand that you do not have to stick to it card for card. While you can just play the stock 30, there are many different directions you can go in as well. Camel Hunter is largely another take on the classic Midrange Hunter shell, meaning you can tweak it in several ways. You can play a secret package, opt for more big threats and less early game, or tack on more burst. It all depends on what decks you are facing at your current rank. To help you understand the deck and get an idea of the shell, the original list has been linked below.
Control Priest, much like Control Warrior is a deck that takes its time setting up its gameplan. However, unlike Control Warrior, it is a deck that has a lot of strong early game plays. As a result, while you can keep slower hands (especially if you have the coin), you typically only want to get into the more powerful three and four drops once you have a solid opening curve. There are a couple exceptions to that rule, which are laid out below.
Cards to KeepWebspinner Glaivezooka Flame Juggler Haunted Creeper
Knife Juggler is a great keep if you have other solid opening minions.
Desert Camel should always be kept with the coin.
Animal Companion is strong keep with the coin or an early curve.
Houndmaster is a good keep with the coin and a solid beast opening.
How to Win
When facing off against Priest you need to understand the pacing of the game. You either want to press for early damage and try to end the game around turns six or seven, or you want to prepare yourself for a longer game where you need to conserve your resources and play your threats conservatively. The right mode will often be dictated by how fast your start out. If you get in a lot of damage early, push. If Priest control the start of the game or matches you, then settle in.
A lot of this game is going to be playing around Priest’s various forms of removal. While that will be covered in more detail below, I bring it up here just to stress how important it is. One of the factors that makes Priest so strong is that they have access to incredibly efficient spot removal as well as AOE. You want to combat that by forcing them into certain plays or baiting them to use specific spells. Making plays thinking “they might do x” is the way you control the tempo of the game.
Early Game Strategy
The opening turns of this game are almost entirely dependent on the way Priest starts out. Though they are a control deck they run a lot of early game. You need to meet that game and try to get the board as soon as you can. That means trading as much as possible. Even if you want to make a push for an early kill, it is never wise to let Priest’s minions just run rampant.
Watch out for Velen’s Chosen. The three mana spell is one of the hardest to deal with in the game, especially if you don’t have an early Hunter’s Mark. While an unanswered chosen will not outright lose you the game, it will let Priest dictate trades for a couple of turns, and by then they will have access to their bigger threats.
Desert Camel can be very strong, but if you aren’t properly prepared it can also be a disaster. Priest runs both Northshire Cleric and Zombie Chow, two of the strongest one drops in the game. As such, you don’t want to run camel out unless you have a way to immediately deal with Priest’s one drop.
An important combo to watch out for is Auchenai Soulpriest/Circle of Healing. While this combo is not as popular as it once was, it still is in a lot of decks. It is hard to play around (you still need to play minions) but if Priest is adding nothing to the board (one of the biggest tells) you should hold back. Even if Priest is not acting like they have the clear, if you have board control early always hold back a threat or two just in case.
Priest’s middle game is where all of their large, efficient removal comes into play. These are the turns where you are going to be playing around their plethora of cards, doing your best to bait out combos and saving your resources. Priest is a deck that plays the long (long, long, long) game, and you don’t need to be in a hurry unless you are close to ending the game.
You need to try and get Houndmaster down. Priest has never been good at dealing with four drops, especially ones that also buff up another card and act as a dual threat. This card is so good in this matchup that you really want to work to protect any of your early beasts (trading in your other minions) if you have it hand.
Never play into Lightbomb or Holy Nova if you can avoid it. A rule of this game is to always hold back a threat (or a couple threats) when you are pushing for damage. While sometimes that will slow you down, it is better than getting blown out by mass removal. All of Priest’s clears are going to take up their entire turn, so if you have more ways to fill up the board in hand, you can easily rebound and keep your tempo going.
In that same vein, try and watch out for Entomb. Savannah Highmane is one of the strongest cards you have against Priest, but it is completely nullified by the six drop removal spell. While sometimes you just have to run the lion out and pray, you should always
Turn six is also important because Cabal Shadow Priest will ruin you if you aren’t properly prepared. Once turn six rolls around you only want to drop minions with two or less attack if you don’t mind the priest stealing them. That usually only happens when you have an overwhelming board presence or you want them to do something that doesn’t taunt or heal.
There are many options to play around, and the way you efficiently make it through this game is by forcing Priest to play the cards you need them to. For instance, forcing them to use an Entomb (which takes up their whole turn six) to keep your tempo, or baiting them to play a Cabal Shadow Priest on your small minion (which stops them from healing) to give you lethal. Those are the most important plays in this matchup, and you should always think about how your opponent is going to react to your plays.
Late Game Strategy
The end of the game is going to be you pushing for lethal while Priest tries to stall as much as possible. Control Priest no longer runs big finishers like they once did. Rather, they stick to Elise Starseeker and her Golden Monkey to win games. In that vein, they are like a fatigue deck, just trying to stall the game until the end as much as possible. You need to bring the heat during these turns to make them use as many resources as possible.
As a midrange deck, you really don’t run that many end game threats. As a result, you are going to try and play one threat at a time to see if Priest has an answer. If they don’t you can just keep chipping away with that minion and hero power. If they do, you just play something else. While playing around removal is important during the middle turns, getting two-for-oned here can lead to a quick loss.
The way you play Dr. Boom is very important here. There are two modes you can take the doctor in. The first is when your opponent is at very low life, and you just run him out to seal the deal since his Boom Bots can kill through AOE. However, if your opponent is at ten or more life, just wait to play him after you bait out a Lightbomb to quickly refill your board.
A very important part of this matchup is making the most out of Hunter’s Mark. Priest has a lot of high-health minions in addition to their various buffs. They also don’t run any real finishers. As a result, there is almost nothing you want to save this for, just use it when the opportunity presents itself. This is one of the best tempo cards in the game, and you should play it as such.