Midrange Hunter is one of the most powerful midrange decks in the current game. It has a powerful curve, solid minions, great burst and some of the best finishing cards around. That makes it very popular and a deck you have to be ready for when taking to the ladder. In this guide we will study how the deck fits together and how another popular midrange deck, Tempo Warrior, can use AOE, removal and burst to take it down.
There are many versions of Tempo Warrior, and all of them are strong in their own way. Some lists favor heavy finishers and lategame threats, while others take to more midrange builds or rely on removal to combat aggro. Whatever you choose largely depends on your own style as well as the decks you see the most at your rank. For control you should stretch your curve out, but if you see a lot of aggro you want to lower it. The core is largely set with this deck, but there is a lot of room for variation in different parts. To help you understand the build as well as give you an idea of what to build off of, two deck guides (and lists) have been linked below.
When mulliganing against Hunter you need to start out as fast as you can. Hunter is a class that can build off of its board more than any other in the game, and once you lose the board it is going to be almost impossible to keep up. As a result, you need to look for all of your low cost cards and throw everything else back. You can only keep three drops if you have the coin or if you already have a two drop coming before it. That rule is so important that it is even worth taking a risk that you are going to draw your later game to look for something early on.
Cards to KeepArmorsmith Slam Fiery War Axe Ravaging Ghoul Acolyte of Pain
Fierce Monkey and Frothing Berserker should always be kept with the coin or on curve.
Kor’kron Elite is a good keep with a fast opening.
Bloodhoof Brave should be kept if it slots in your curve.
How to Win
The way to beat Hunter is constantly staying one step ahead of them. As noted, it is very hard for them to lose once they get ahead on the board. To beat that you always need to think one turn ahead by focusing on their next play. This will help you plan the game out and let you know what card to play or set up each turn. In that same vein, if you can start your curve before they do you will also be able to control trades and really hold them back. Hunter is largely a tempo list, and whoever wins this is going to who can keep the other one under more pressure. You have to control the board to win this.
Try and get the most out of your removal. Hunter is a deck that runs a lot of high-impact threats, and while you may want to save your spells or AOE for certain situations, your first goal should always be to just get something onto an empty board. Using Execute on their four drop may not feel good, but if you are removing a key threat while adding your own minions, it is usually the right play. It is better to see this as a damage-based tempo game where whoever gets their minion onto a board first usually is going to win.
Early Game Strategy
The start of this game is really going to decide the middle turns. As mentioned, Hunter depends on their early drops to build into midgame, which then builds into the end. If you can disrupt any part of that curve it is really going to squeeze your opponent’s gameplan. While you do not start out in the same way, you really want to take the time during these turns to try and make sure you use efficient removal and try to get a minion, no matter how small or low-impact, to stick.
Hunter has a very set build where they start the game with a 3/2 on two or a Quick Shot and then play a beast or beast buff every turn after. Your whole goal is to get something down before they can. That does not mean you need to physically play a minion, but rather you need to structure your early removal to make sure you are going to get something down on an empty board. Once Hunter is playing from behind they are at a huge disadvantage.
Frothing Berkserker and Acolyte of Pain are both very strong in this matchup because they are going to force Hunter to react and answer your board. Anytime you can get your opponent to use removal rather than play a threat you are going to come out ahead. You can also run both of those cards out just to slow your opponent down.
You want to watch out for Freezing Trap. The secret is pretty popular these days and there are many cards you do not want to run into it. It can be especially brutal on your three drops. Try and get something small to hit the trap. The only exception to that when you want to clear the trap to make sure for you midgame. In which case, trigger it early.
The middle turns are almost always going to decide the entire game. That is either because they are where one person pulls ahead or where someone takes so much damage that they simply cannot recover during the end game. Here are where your bigger threats come down, which you need to use to either deter or fight through your opponent’s. Here you are tempo through and through, do everything you can to control the board before looking at ways to do damage.
You need to watch out for both Houndmaster and Stampeding Kodo. Houndmaster is always dangerous to deal with, and you need to make it so your opponent never gets a beast to stick if you can help it. The four drop does a masterful job at helping Hunter control the board (and thus the game) so restrict it whenever possible.
On the other hand, Stampeding Kodo can blow you out if you aren’t careful. The five drop hits so many cards in your deck (especially Bloodhoof Brave) and can game-ending in the right situations. While not every Hunter runs Kodo, it is common enough that you need to play around it when you can.
Kor’kron Elite is one of your best plays and should almost always be used as a removal spell. This card does a really good job at both clearing and applying pressure. While you typically want to save it as a clutch removal spell, if you have no other four drop you should not be afraid to point this at your opponent’s face.
Ravaging Ghoul is very strong if set up correctly. Not only can it be used to clear out small minions (such as the back half of an Infested Wolf) but it is great at setting up Battle Rage or triggering Acolyte of Pain. The three drop can generate you a lot of value, and you should always try to turn it into cards or board advantage when possible. It can be a board clear with Whirlwind as well.
Late Game Strategy
The end of the game is largely going to be a mirror in that both you and your opponent are going to be playing to your finishers. Hunter has a ton of burst and can wear you down with their hero power, while you have your own large finishers. You need to play this very close to the chest, clearing when you expect burst and pushing towards your own damage.
Always look for ways to get in hits here. Tempo Warrior has an aggressive undertone that you need to play to if you want to come out on top of your opponent’s finishers. Grommash Hellscream and Ragnaros the Firelord both are great ways to end the game, but you also have a lot of weapons in addition to things like Kor’kron Elite. Knowing all of these outs is very important because it will help you know your chances of drawing lethal.
The most important part of the end game is watching out for Call of the Wild. Not only does the eight mana spell instantly take over the board, but it usually lethal. The five damage from Huffer in addition to the buffs Leokk gives can end the game on the spot. Come turn eight you need to always make sure your opponent has a clear board in addition to the fact that you are at a decent amount of health.
Always count how many Eaglehorn Bows, Kill Commands and Quick Shots your opponent has used. While Midrange Hunter is a slower deck, they are a still a Hunter. They have a ton of damage and knowing what exactly they can do is very important to understanding the way you should take your turns.