While the meta is currently very diverse, it is also very aggressive. A lot of the most popular decks on the ladder love going face or putting through a ton of early pressure. Of those, one of the most aggressive is Face Hunter, a classic build with powerful early minions and strong burn. Due to its popularity, you need to be ready for it no matter what rank you find yourself at. In this guide, we will explore another very popular deck, Deathrattle Rogue, and examine how it can use its different tools and early board control to to survive Rexxar’s rush.
The biggest advantage of Deathrattle Rogue is the amount of minions you can pick from. There are a lot of deathrattle cards in the game, and each of them has their own advantages and disadvantages. When choosing how to build Deathrattle Rogue you want to craft it in a style that best fits your own preferences. You can go with a low, aggressive curve or you can make a much slower, more midrange build. Either way, when choosing your decklist only play a style that you are comfortable with and best understand. To help you out, a guide to building deathrattle and the core decklist have been linked below.
Against Face Hunter you need to come out as a strong as they do. No matter what build you go with, you are a deck that depends on the first few turns to get rolling. In that same vein, Hunter is a deck that will completely run you over if you don’t have early plays. While daggering a Leper Gnome may seem fine, you are taking four damage and adding nothing to the board. You are going to win this game by pushing against them harder than they push against you. As such, mulligan very aggressively. Early plays and removal are essential here, since you will fall behind way too quickly if you don’t have them.
Cards to KeepBackstab Leper Gnome Abusive Sergeant Haunted Creeper Eviscerate Loot Hoarder
Unearthed Raptor is good with the coin or with a strong opening.
SI:7 Agent should always be kept with the coin or Backstab
Piloted Shredder is a good keep if you have the coin and a strong opening curve.
Defender of Argus is a good keep with the coin or a strong curve since it is your only way to fight aggressive pushes.
How to Win
Stay alive. Sounds simple, but is actually very, very complicated. When playing against Face Hunter you need to find a balance between forcing through damage and making sure your life never falls too low. As a Rogue you have a lot of ways to do damage. As a deathrattle deck, you have a lot of ways to start out fast. This is a matchup where you want to blend both of those worlds to put as much pressure on your opponent as possible.
One of the most important parts of playing this matchup is understanding your opponent’s damage potential. Hunter is a deck that, through both spells and minions, has a ton of burst. Kill Command and Quick Shot get over taunts, while Wolfrider and Argent Horserider will punish you for not having board. You need to constantly be aware of what your opponent played and what they could have in their hand. This will tell you if trading or pushing for damage is the right choice.
No matter what style of Deathrattle Rogue you are playing you should always be aware that you have a lot of high-threat minions. This is especially true in the early turns, when you can drop Unearthed Raptors and Piloted Shredders. If unanswered (as they almost always will be) those cards can do a lot of damage very quickly. Face Hunter is not a deck that deals well when under fire, and anytime you can force them onto the back foot you should.
Early Game Strategy
This game usually begins in a very straightforward manner. With your opponent trying to push through early damage and you responding with as many minions and spells as you can. You damage push most likely won’t begin until the middle turns. Here you just want to play a much slower control-style game. This will enable you to set up your board and then slowly sculpt it in a way that will push you through during the middle turns of the game.
A big part of the early game is getting around traps. Mad Scientist often comes down on turn two, which means you are most likely going to be seeing a trap on turn three. As of right now, there are four “main” traps in the game: Freezing Trap, Explosive Trap, Bear Trap and Snake Trap. Of those, Freezing and Bear are the rarest in Face Hunter, Snake sees a decent amount of play and Explosive is almost commonplace.
When dealing with traps you always want to trigger them in a way that will hurt you the least. For instance, if you can’t deal with Bear Trap but can handle Freezing Trap, then attack a minion. However, if you also cannot deal with Snake Trap, you really need to consider your options and see which situation is the most harmless.
The most important card to prepare for here is Animal Companion. While a lot of Hunter’s opening cards are strong, they don’t completely shut down the board in the way companion can. For this reason, you always want to be ready with damage on turn four. That can be Eviscerate, or that can be a trade on board, but you need to kill whatever comes down on sight.
Face Hunter doesn’t really run any midrange minions. Rather, they just try to make the most out of their mana as the game goes along. That usually means their regular damage plus a hero power. You need to start being extra careful here and do your best to stay one step ahead of your opponent’s damage as best you can.
While it may be easy to flood the board during the middle turns of the game, you need to watch out for Knife Juggler/Unleash the Hounds. That two card combo not only leads to a lot of damage, but gives them a full board, which is very hard to deal with in a deck like this.
This is the part of the game where Defender of Argus and Sludge Belcher come into play. Both of these cards are your most important tools since without healing you have no other way to stop aggression. These not only will help you go longer, but they will also enable you to win a race by suddenly putting a wall in your opponent’s way.
The biggest problem with running taunts over healing is Ironbeak Owl. Every aggressive Hunter decks runs two copies of the little bird, and they will have them more often than not. For this reason you want to always play Defender or Argus (or Antique Healbot if you run it) over Sludge Belcher. The reason is that argus gives you two taunts instead of one, making it much more resilient to the owl. In that same vein, while sometimes you have to use argus to taunt one minion, always strive to buff up two.
Late Game Strategy
Some games you are going to be very far ahead and simply cruise to victory by having a good board and a comfortable life total. However, those are going to be few and far between. Instead, most games are going to end in some type of race where you struggle to kill them before they can kill you. A lot of the early game is going to be setting up your board, but the final stages are an all-out war.
Understanding these turns is understanding when to switch for board-centric to aggro. Always look a few turns into the future, think about what you have vs. the burn they have not used, and then decide. Typically if you find yourself in a position where you are going to die to burn or their hero in three or less turns you want to hit them as fast as possible. Anything slower and you can take a little more time to set up plays.
The biggest rule of the late game is to never get lazy. No matter what your health is or what you have on the board, Hunter can still bring you down. Remember this well, and keep it in your mind as you get later and later into the game. Hunter will eventually wear you down with their burn and hero power, which means you never want to take an extra hit or two if you don’t have to. If you are low on life, just remove their board and add as much as you can to the field.
Use Explosive Trap to your advantage. Almost every single Face Hunter decks runs at least one copy of that card, and it can trigger a good amount of early deathrattle. Nerubian Egg is the most obvious, but even getting extra 1/1’s out of a Haunted Creeper can be really important in trading off with some of Face Hunter’s small minions.