Midrange Hunter is one of the most powerful decks in Hearthstone. Not only does it have a great curve and some incredibly sticky minions, but it also has unprecedented burst potential. That combination makes it good in just about any match. However, no matter how strong a deck is, it will always have its weaknesses. This guide will explore those weakness by looking at how Control Warrior, with its massive life gain and unlimited removal, fights back against Rexxar’s hoard of beasts.
Control Warrior is a very old decklist, but that doesn’t mean you have to play the exact same 30 cards as someone else. There is always room for innovation, and, despite many of the stock removal spells in this deck, a lot of the cards can be tweaked. There are plenty of finishers and giant legends to choose from, and you can always tweak your removal package to fit what you’re facing most on ladder. To give you an idea of some of these choices, three Control Warrior decklists have been linked below.
When mulliganing for Hunter you really want to hard mulligan for your weapons. Most of your removal is good at killing but weak to deathrattle. However, your weapons can hit things twice or be used to clean up after something dies. Control Warrior’s don’t always need a good curve to open the game, but you want to make sure you can answer Hunter’s early threats. This game is all about mitigating damage, and the more early cards you have, the easier it will be to build into your bigger threats.
Cards to KeepShield Slam Fiery War Axe Armorsmith Cruel Taskmaster Slam Bash Acolyte of Pain Death’s Bite
Execute should be kept only if you have no other removal options at your disposal.
Shield Block is a good keep, but only if you have early game removal to go along with it.
Brawl can be kept if you have a really strong curve coming before it.
Sludge Belcher can be kept if you have the coin and early game removal.
How to Win
Control Warrior is a finely tuned machine, but Midrange Hunter is easily one of the toughest matchups it has. As mentioned, you don’t do well when facing a bunch of sticky minions. In order to combat that you want to have a plan for each threat Midrange Hunter has. While you may not see them all, you want to have a way to combat things like Piloted Shredder, Savannah Highmane, Animal Companion and Dr. Boom. Staying one step ahead of Hunter is the best way to win this match because it will allow you to know how and when to use your different removal.
While you are not playing against face, this is a game where health is extremely important. Midrange Hunter has a lot of burst damage, which goes up as they move to their bigger minions. You need to be constantly thinking about your health as well as your opponent’s damage potential. Getting lazy or missing an opportunity to gain armor can often be the difference between winning and losing.
In that same vein you need to understand what your removal is for. Execute and Shield Slam are both very strong, but they typically have to be saved for the larger threats. You never want to Execute an Animal Companion only to die to a Sludge Belcher or Savannah Highmane a few turns later. Of course, if it is your only option you should use it, but always look for weapons, trades or other options when clearing the smaller threats.
It is also important to note that this is a very interesting matchup in terms of pacing. When playing Control Warrior you typically want to do your best to just survive as long as you can until your opponent runs out of threats. The problem with that strategy here is, even if you do make it to the later turns, Hunter will constantly pressure you with their hero power, damage, and hard-to-remove minions. Always understand that you are never truly save unless you have a pushed way above lethal range. Once you get control of the board never get complacent. Be aggressive and try to push toward your finishing combo as much as possible.
Early Game Strategy
Fiery War Axe and Armorsmith are the two cards you want for the first turns. The axe is one of the best (the best?) two drops the game has to offer, and the ability to take out almost all of Hunter’s early minions is invaluable.
On the other side, Armorsmith is very good, not just because of her ability, but because Hunter will almost always take some time to remove her. Anytime you can stall them for a turn or two is great because it pushes you towards the all-important later turns. Being able to do that while also gain some life is every better.
Besides the axe, your best early turn removal is Shield Slam. It has great versatility with your hero power, and can be combined with an early Shield Block to kill some of the larger minions Hunter can drop (Animal Companion). This is one of your premium removal cards, but it is fine to use early if you have no other options for killing something like a Knife Juggler.
Acolyte of Pain is also a very strong card for two reasons. One, it will almost always draw extra cards. Most of Hunter’s early minions have less than three attack, allowing you to chip away at your opponent’s minions and fill up your hand. In addition, much like Armorsmith Hunter is going to do their best to remove this card on sight. The longer this game goes, the better chance you have at stabilizing and getting to your larger threats. As such, any card that forces Hunter to pause and react to you is very good.
Remember, always kill their early beasts to prevent them from curving into Houndmaster. There are a couple of cards that push Midrange Hunter over the top and a triggered Houndmaster is one of them. Not only does it give them damage potential and board presence, but it also locks out your weapons and forces them to hit the taunted beast.
When switching into the middle turns of the game your two biggest weapons are going to be Death’s Bite and Brawl. You should always use the bite to clear something on turn four (sometimes even going face) because you want to be able to do five damage the following turn for things like Loatheb and Sludge Belcher. In the same vein, always try to set up your brawl by popping as many of their deathrattle minions as you can.
You have to play around secrets. Though they will usually come out early, the midgame is where they most often trigger. Midrange typically runs Freezing Trap or Snake Trap. It is very hard to play around all three, but you want to have a plan for each.
Try your best to trigger freezing with a small or battlecry minion. Even having one on board against the trap will often force Hunter to remove them to limit your value. If you desperately need to attack with something, never be afraid to trigger it with Grommash Hellscream. When facing snakes you need to have some clear or AOE. Always attack face when testing traps if you do not have an answer for the snakes.
The biggest rule here is to have some type of plan for Savannah Highmane. This is single-handedly the most dangerous threat Midrange Hunter has, and it is a nightmare to deal with. Trade into it on sight or use any removal you have, whether or not you can deal with the hyenas. The two 2/2’s it spawns are really annoying, but they pack less of a punch than Scar does.
Get Sludge Belcher down as soon as you can. It is your only taunt and a great way to stall on the board. However, when looking to play Shieldmaiden, if you have a Shield Slam in hand you most often want to wait until turn seven to get value from her battlecry. If you don’t have the slam, then just run her out when you have an opportunity to do so.
Late Game Strategy
The end of this game is very tricky. You are most often going to be at a low life total. That means they are going to be attempting to kill you, and you are going to be attempting to gain as much armor as possible. These are the turns where you need to watch out for both Kill Command and Quick Shot while also keeping their minions in check. Not an easy balance. Remove everything on sight and always track the burn spells they have used and the ones they could have in hand.
One of the problems with going into the late game against Hunter is their hero power. Two armor a turn is very nice, but against Hunter it just means you are breaking even. There are only two real ways to tip the scales in your favor, and you should try to get to each of them since they will almost always get your out of range for good.
The first of those is Alexstrasza, whose ability should almost always exclusively be used on yourself, and the second is Justicar Trueheart. As powerful as Trueheart is, the weak body makes her a really bad play during the midgame. You almost always want to save her for the later turns when you can put her down and also gain six health.
Never be afraid to use Grommash Hellscream. Many people will try to hold onto the legend until they can use him as a finisher, but here you need to be a little more reactive than in other games. That does not mean you want to just run him into your opponent’s face, but know that he is a great way to clear. Not only can he take out a threat, but he often lives the turn and represents ten damage on board.
Always look for opportunities to get Sylvanas Windrunner on the board. These will typically come at times when you are high in life or when you have control of the board. She creates many problems for Midrange Hunter (whose only response is Ironbeak Owl) and the board presence she provides is more than worth the tempo loss. Just try to not play her into a Freezing Trap.