Next Evolutions of Hunting : Post Undertaker Nerf

Blizzard has recently balanced (nerfed) Undertaker. So what do you do as a Hunter player? Check out Spark's article to find out!

Introduction

Hello everyone! I’m Spark, top ranked Legend player from France. Today we’ll be discussing Hunter’s state following the Undertaker nerf!

As you may already know, I completely fell in love with this class back when I started the game during Beta testing. I have accumulated an insane amount of experience running mid-range variants that exercise the powerful beasts synergies available to the class.

You will be surprised to read that I’m actually pretty fine with the change since it’s inciting people to explore new strategies, increasing the meta-game’s diversity. I’m also happy that the hatred towards Hunter will probably decrease slightly and people will eventually stop calling us “Huntard” (even when you are running a mid-range or control variant). I can now play my beloved class in peace and let people complain about the new carcinogenic deck (Mech Mage, for those who haven’t noticed its current dominance).

Undertaker was a key card for many Hunter archetypes because of its amazing snowballing potential and its awesome synergy with cards that are already solid choices for aggressive Hunter strategies. These cards include Webspinner, Mad Scientist, Haunted Creeper, and even slower cards such as Piloted Shredder and Savannah Highmane.

Despite the nerf, it’s still a decent card overall but has lost a lot of its trading potential. Therefore, it should now be viewed as just another viable threat, fitting better in very aggressive builds. Ironically, aggro decks are the least impacted by the change since Undertaker will either be answered immediately or chip away for a good amount of damage during the first few turns. The change is more hurtful to slower decks since the card helped a lot with early trading, allowing you to snowball into your mid to late game threats.

Basically that’s the only negative point that I see with the nerf… Blizzard failed, once again (RIP Starving Buzzard), to balance an aggressive strategy, inciting even more people to play Hunter as a rush-down class.

That aside, I will probably never give up on running different Hunter strategies as I’m still in love with the class for its core Beast theme. Personally, I’ve never really enjoyed playing rush-down Decks.

This article will cover all of the viable strategies I see currently with Hunter, sharing a personal deck-list or two for each archetype (along with links to their respective guides) and discussing the impact of the nerf as well as explaining the basics related to each deck. 😉 The last section will cover my new precious Hunter deck, which I am currently using to climb ladder with an awesome amount of success and fun !

Aggro: Face Hunter

Impact of the Nerf:

The Undertaker nerf doesn’t impact these decks that much because you are mostly using it for its damage potential and not necessarily for trading. Obviously, it is now easier to deal with the card even if you are one or two turns late because its toughness won’t increase anymore. Now a simple 2/1 body or a 2-damage spell can answer it perfectly.

The deck and its variants are still potent threats that you’ll have to deal with on the ladder. However, they won’t be able to snowball out of control like before. 😉 Expect most Hunters to be running this archetype!

How to Build:

I think it’s now better to use the Face variant (as opposed to my “Unleash the Death” build) because it’s more in line with the strengths of the deck. If you want to use one of these Decks, I would recommend the deck-list to the right with charge minions pressuring for more damage.

Glaivezooka, Wolfrider, Leeroy Jenkins, Snake Trap, and Hunter’s Mark are all good cards to consider depending on your preferences and needs. 😉

How to Play:

The strategy is pretty straight forward, you want to go for the face as much as you can! You’ll be using powerful Undertaker starts to rack up damage right from the game’s start and keep going with charge minions and Eaglehorn Bow durability to bring your opponent closer to lethal.

Obviously, you still want to control your opponent’s main threats with your cheap minions and buffs from Abusive Sergeant as you don’t want to lose the race. However, this generally only happens 1 to 3 times in a game.

Knife Juggler into Unleash the Hounds plays will punish other aggressive decks for flooding the board and will generally be awesome follow-ups to Explosive Trap. Ironbeak Owl will be used to ignore taunts and Kill Command is your main finisher.

The Deck is very weak to Control Warrior and has a hard time keeping up aggression against high sustain decks like Paladin or Priest but will win the race most of the time against more aggressive decks or slow greedy builds. 😉

Mechs in Hunter:

A consistent Mech-centered Hunter has yet to be seen but I think it can be a decent strategy as cards like Metaltooth Leaper have so much aggressive potential!

The problem with that design is that you can’t guarantee that your minions will hit for some damage as it’s more tempo-oriented. It is similar to Mech Mage but simply weaker as it induces conflict with powerful Hunter cards to not mess with the curve.

When you are thinking of a Mech-centered deck, you want to run as many as possible to justify cards like Cogmaster, Mechwarper, Tinkertown Technician, and Metaltooth Leaper. Excluding Beasts synergies for additional Mech cards doesn’t really feel appealing to me because it requires giving up on a core part of Hunter’s power!

I’m not saying that it’s not viable as you can do pretty fine with Mech Hunter (I used to toy with a fairly solid Mech/deathrattle build prior to nerf). However, it just doesn’t feel worth it to me as I prefer using the class’s strengths as opposed to neutral synergies another class capitalizes better on. 😉

Mid-range: Deathrattle Hunter

Impact of the Nerf :

The Undertaker nerf is slightly more hurtful to this archetype because the card was an awesome early trading tool and allowed you to snowball into the mid-game safely. It’s not really a big deal against slower decks as they don’t necessarily have early presence to combat it and will generally use a spell on it like before. However, it hurts the aggro match-ups as the card is now more vulnerable to cheap minions.

I think mid-range Hunter is still a viable strategy but you’ll now be forced to run a slightly more aggressive strategy to compensate for the change. This means using Undertaker as an early threat that trades into a bigger minion if not dealt with.

How to Build :

I played a lot of my “Beasty Zoo” Midrange Hunter the last two seasons. The deck had a very balanced early aggression game-plan that was complemented with nice late-game threats. Although still viable, I believe that it’s now better to build the deck with a slightly lower curve since Undertaker lost its ability to trade with multiple cards. Before, this would clear the way for you to play your late-game threats.

For these reasons, I’ve updated my “Death Trap” build to exclude slower cards such as Sludge Belcher and the awesome Sylvanas Windrunner + Feign Death combo, reserving this strategy for a more control-oriented build. The deck still runs Savannah Highmane and Dr. Boom as final threats while Loatheb makes a return in the list to fill the 5-drop slot, set up lethal, or to protect your board from board sweepers.

I’m still running the 3-traps set-up because they are all situationally helpful and generally good overall. Tracking allows you to dig for specific cards like Unleash the Hounds, Hunter’s Mark, and of course Kill Command to push for lethal!

How to Play:

The strategy remains the same as before: You really want to play on-curve with the deck so your opponent as to deal with your threats each turn. Despite not being very difficult to pilot properly, you’ll have to learn how to manage your resources in order to not run out of steam quickly.

Recognizing the state of the game is a very important skill to succeed with the deck because you’ll often have to decide between maintaining board control and pushing for more damage to threaten lethal shortly thereafter!

The deck can have a hard time against heavy control decks if you don’t curve out well but is extremely efficient against semi-aggressive decks. Aggro match-ups can be very close because they often have the potential to outrace you. Fortunately, you have better board control options. 😉

Control: Value Hunter

Impact of the Nerf:

Obviously, the deck isn’t directly affected by the change. But the fact that there is no longer a potential 1 mana Yeti is definitely a great thing for the viability of this deck!

Aggro decks are still played in this new era and you’ll generally need a good starting hand to answer them. However, I would say that the deck is even better than before and in a solid state right now. 😉

How to Build:

Your early game is mostly about having a Mad Scientist and Eaglehorn Bow start to establish board control. Wild Pyromancer and Arcane Shot are key cards to control early threats, especially when combined with the damage of your traps. Steamwheedle Sniper is a good tech to transition into your mid-game.

I’m running some mid-sized value threats like Piloted Shredder, Sludge Belcher and Savannah Highmane as well some powerful late-game threats such as Dr. Boom, Ragnaros the Firelord, and Gahz’rilla to close the game.

Sylvanas Windrunner into Feign Death is an amazing combo for this deck. Because you’ll generally be able to control your opponent’s board, you’ll be able to steal what you want. Meanwhile, Hunter’s Mark will completely shut down your opponent’s most potent threats when needed!

The rest of the deck is mostly constituted of tech cards I’m considering tweaking it here and there depending on how the meta-game evolves. This includes cards such as Illuminator, Antique Healbot, Loatheb, and Sneed’s Old Shredder.

How to Play:

The most important thing to remember about the deck is that it doesn’t run any draw mechanisms, meaning you should use resources very wisely. It is often right to absorb a bit of damage in order to set up a powerful board clear the following turn!

I highly recommend checking out the full guide I wrote on this very website in order to learn more about the deck’s mechanics. 😉

The deck is insanely strong against other control decks due to its slightly more aggressive play-style and surprise factor. It also deals pretty well with mid-range decks but can struggle against aggro decks when opening with a poor starting hand.

Tempo: Beast Synergy Hunter

Initial Idea:

When the Undertaker nerf was announced, I decided to take a look back at Beasts synergies.

My initial idea was to run a full Beast deck (similar to old-school builds back when Starving Buzzard was good) and try to see if Call Pet could see any glimpse of viability.

I ended up with a solid list that you can see in my Post-Nerf Hunter Talk. The deck is tempo-oriented and can literally overwhelm any opposing deck given the right hand.

I had two main issues with the deck design and both were related to Call Pet. First, the card forced me to run some decent but not particularly strong cards like Lost Tallstrider or Stranglethorn Tiger. Second, I noticed that Call Pet was too much reliant on drawing the perfect Beast. When you draw a good target for it, you probably win the game. But when you don’t, it’s generally a tempo loss.

Final List :

I was somewhat satisfied with this first try but decided to improve the consistency of my initial idea by excluding mediocre cards to include more solid synergies.

I instantly thought about Snake Trap to pull off amazing combos with Knife Juggler, set up efficient board clears with Timber Wolf, power up Scavenging Hyena, and make use of Hunter’s Mark (akin to what Unleash the Hounds already does).

This choice also aimed to justify Mad Scientist and Eaglehorn Bow, which are insanely great early tempo tools and really consolidate the deck in that aspect.

I decided to keep the Tundra Rhino tech because it synergizes so well with Savannah Highmane and Scavenging Hyena. I also added a Cult Master to make use of all those tokens for some crazy comeback potential via the draw mechanism!

The deck is really efficient when piloted properly and is honestly a lot of fun due to its highly synergistic nature! As the deck is very strategic, it requires a lot of thinking to make it work so I highly suggest checking out the guide and videos to fully understand the mechanics of the deck. 😉

Note that I’m currently trying to adapt to my meta-game by swapping a Houndmaster out for an Explosive Trap and King of Beasts for Loatheb.

Results:

I’m having a great amount of success with this deck on ladder. The deck is also a lot of fun because Beasts synergies are so exciting to play with!

The deck can go on some crazy win streaks despite still being susceptible to bad games when you don’t have great draws. However, every deck has this issue and I’d like to emphasize that this one is fairly consistent in that regard. 😉

I’m literally destroying every aggro deck I face thanks to some awesome Unleash the Hounds plays. Moreover, slower decks aren’t really an issue thanks to the solid mid-game threats that I am running.

Control Warrior is by far the worst match-up because it has so much sustenance while Whirlwind effects are destroying your dreams. Druid and Paladin decks can be tough match-ups when they land a Swipe or Consecration at the right time. Meanwhile, Mech Mage always brings some very close games but you will generally have a positive win-rate against them if you pilot the deck properly and be clever about your game-plan. 😉

Here are my win-rates with the deck (currently rank 5 with only about an hour of playtime per day):

Gameplay Videos :

I’ve uploaded many game-play videos during my climb and I definitely recommend checking these out if you want to see the deck in action and understand how to pilot it properly!

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL25ooc9f6z3-1N-Iuw3n6N2tTyurQaTPI

Closing

That’s it for the article guys. I hope this will help you pick your new way of hunting on the ladder! Don’t forget to rate the article if you enjoyed it and don’t hesitate to discuss or ask questions in the comment section below. 😉

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