MUA: Camel Hunter vs. Zoo

While Hunter has dipped in popularity as of late, Camel Hunter is a very strong iteration of the classic midrange list. If you plan to take it to ladder, you need to know how to combat the other powerful decks in the meta. This guide will help you with that by taking a look at […]

Introduction

While Hunter has dipped in popularity as of late, Camel Hunter is a very strong iteration of the classic midrange list. If you plan to take it to ladder, you need to know how to combat the other powerful decks in the meta. This guide will help you with that by taking a look at Zoo. The aggro Warlock deck is very strong, but here we will explore how Camel Hunter’s constant board presence and damage potential can take it down.

Sample Decklists

Camel Hunter is a set decklist, but that does not mean you need to be locked into playing the exact deck card for card. Hearthstone is all about innovation, and you should feel free to tweak this in the way that best suits your style of play. While the core is essential, there are many tweaks you can experiment with. For instance, you can run more burst to combat control, a secret package to fight aggro, or you can run more midrange threats. To help you decide which version to run, the original list has been linked below.

Deck

Mulligan Guide

When playing against Warlock you need to mulligan for Zoo. While you can recover if your mulligan early for Renolock, keeping slow cards against Zoo is not an option. You need to start out fast to meet their opening turns, as even missing one early play can put you behind for the rest of the game. You just want one or two drops here. Everything else, such as three or four drops, only come once you have a way to open the game.

Cards to Keep

Webspinner Glaivezooka Flame Juggler Haunted Creeper Unleash the Hounds

Situational Keeps

Knife Juggler is a great keep if you have other solid opening minions.

Desert Camel should always be kept with the coin.

Animal Companion/card] is strong keep with the coin or an early curve.

[card]Houndmaster is a good keep with the coin and a solid beast opening.

How to Win

This is going to be a game of board control. While you always care about the board as a midrange Hunter, once you fall behind against Zoo it is going to be very, very hard to come back. You need to use all of your resources to get something down onto an empty (or mostly empty board). One that happens you can then pressure your opponent’s life total, and really begin to put the squeeze on them.

Zoo is more tempo-oriented than it once was, but it is still an aggro deck. This means that damage is going to play a very important part in this game. While many people tend to be conservative with trades, you need to know when to push for face. Damage is one of the most important tempo tools in Hearthstone, and one of the best ways to make a deck that is constantly life tapping switch up their gameplan. Clearing is always going to be priority number one, but as soon as you have board control or large minions, you need to bring the heat.

Early Game Strategy

The early turns are going to set the tempo for most of the game, and if you don’t play them right you will fall behind. The basic rule here is to keep Zoo at bay by trying to clear as efficiently as you can. They have many sticky minions (Nerubian Egg, Haunted Creeper), and you need to be ready for all of them.

Glaivezooka is the best early game card you have, and you need to try to set it up as well as you can. What that means is, while the weapon is good at killing off annoying early drops like Knife Juggler or Dark Peddler, it really shines because it can buff your minions. Using this to trade up with an early minion is exactly what you want. As such, always look to have a minion down before playing this.

Be very careful about playing Desert Camel. The three drop is one of the strongest cards in your deck, and getting two 2/4’s on turn three can do a lot in terms of beating Zoo’s early game. However, it is also going to give Zoo a Flame Imp, Abusive Sergeant, Argent Squire or Voidwalker. Know this, and try to only put down the beast when you have a way to instantly clear their one drop minion.

You typically want to hold onto Dreadscale for the later turns of the game unless you have a full clear on turn three. The 4/2 is very fragile, and Zoo will be almost always be able to answer it given the right options. The worm in this matchup is mainly for dealing with Imp-losion, so hold it as long as you can.

Midgame Strategy

You and Zoo and are both decks that go big during the middle of the match. They will try their best to set up scenarios you cannot deal with, and you want to challenge them by putting down big threat after big threat. Zoo can only really operate when they have minions on the board, and if you can make it so they only have a small creature against your larger ones, you should be able to build the game in the way that you want.

The best card in this matchup is Unleash the Hounds. This is pretty much your only catch up card if you fall behind on board, which means you want to hold it until the middle of the game. While best with Knife Juggler, you can let the dogs out anytime your opponent has a board of three or more minions, or if they have just played an Imp-losion. That is especially true if you have a Hunter’s Mark.

Always plan for Defender of Argus. This may seem like a small note, but the four drop can be an absolute blowout if you aren’t ready for it. When mapping out your future turns (or deciding what to clear) just always see what happens if two of your opponents minions suddenly have +1/1 and taunt.

Do your best to set up Houndmaster. You run a good number of beasts in this list, and there is no better way to get board control than to buff one of them up with + 2/2. If you are takin that route, you need to protect your beasts (or flood the board with them) as much as you can.

If you have Savannah Highmane in hand you want to play to it as much as possible. The six drop (along with Dr. Boom) is one of your best ways to get Zoo to halt in their tracks. Unless they are overwhelmingly ahead, Zoo will be forced to deal with the lion for fear of taking six to the face. This card essentially is a taunt card that gives you more board presence when it dies, and you should play it as such. Run it out and let your opponent deal with it.

Beware of Sea Giant. The 8/8 is pretty much standard fare in Zoo these days, and it can be a real doozy to deal with if it comes down early. Anytime the board is getting crowded with minions on both sides, try to trade a little bit just to increase the giant’s cost should they have it.

Late Game Strategy

During the late stages of the game you are going to need to pressure your opponent’s life total as much as you can. Zoo is a deck that loves to Lifetap, and the longer the game goes the more susceptible they will be to damage. Your hero power is very important during these turns, and you should try to go for face as much as you can.

Dr. Boom is your best card in this matchup, hands down. The seven drop, like Savannah Highmane, is a roadblock that has to be dealt with. If you are at a healthy life, run this card out as fast as you can.

Zoo runs a large slew of midgame minions, but they also have some heavy finishers. Things like Dr. Boom and Mal’ganis are very common, meaning you never want to relax. Just because you dealt with one large threat does not mean there aren’t more coming.

Finally, always try to account for Zoo’s potential burst. The Warlock deck needs minions to operate, but given their Dark Peddlers (which have a nasty habit of discoveringPower Overwhelming) and slew of buffs, they can bring you down from the mid-teens in a hurry. Do not think just because you are at fifteen or so life you are safe.

Final Tip

Always try to figure out the best time to make use of Hunter’s Mark. While this card is best used on something huge like Dr. Boom or Sea Giant, it is usually going to be played as tempo. Being able to clear some midrange threat while also putting your own minion onto the board is very strong, as is clearing a turn two Nerubian. This card should be used for value (with Dreadscale) rather than just for end-game finishers.